Magazine article Editor & Publisher

More Women Execs at Major Syndicates

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

More Women Execs at Major Syndicates

Article excerpt

IN 1982, ABOUT 21% of the executives at major syndicates were women -- with virtually all of these females in lower-management positions.

E&P's most recent Syndicate Directory tells a different story. In 1992, 39.4% of the executives at the 10 biggest feature distributors were women -- with many still in lowermanagement slots but some in middleand upper-level jobs.

Why are there now more females in supervisory positions? Has the rate of progress been quick enough? Will a woman eventually head a major syndicate? Has the rise in female managers affected feature content?

These and other questions were discussed by eight female syndicate executives interviewed last month.

"Changes in the syndicate business have reflected changes in society at large," said Tribune Media Services managing editor Evelyn Smith, when asked why more women have become syndicate executives.

More specifically, Harriet Choice believes syndicates have been spurred to action by an awareness of the increased number of female feature editors at newspapers.

"Syndicate sales forces have found themselves calling on more women in feature departments" said the Universal Press Syndicate associate vice president. "Syndicates took note of this and started to bring in more women."

Choice observed that women now outnumber men in the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors. Indeed, an AASFE brochure stated that the organizations membership went from 17 men and no women during its 1947 rounding year to 90 women and 74 men in the early 1990s.

Some, but not all, interviewees said the rise in female syndicate executives has also been impressive.

"There's no doubt that we've come a long way," said Copley News Service editorial/marketing director Nanette Wiser, whose company operates as a syndicate despite its name.

Smith described the increase as "slow but steady" and noted that the number of female executives probably accelerated faster in the last decade than in any other previous 10-year period.

"Women are slowly but surely entering the management level," observed United Media national sales manager Lisa Klein Wilson. "When I started about 10 years ago, there were very few women -- especially in sales. It was a real old-boys' network?'

"There's still the old-buddy system, but it's breaking down to some degree' added Choice.

Washington Post Writers Group associate editor Anna Karavangelos said syndicates probably now have a higher percentage of female managers than newspapers do but added that there is still room for improvement.

At WPWG, six of the seven staff positions listed in the 1992 Syndicate Directory were filled by women. The one male was the head of WPWG.

Creators Syndicate vice president/general manager Anita Tobias said she has not noticed a big increase in female syndicate executives but added that women are moving up more in the communications business than in a number of other fields.

Choice noted that one reason why women are "crawling" rather than racing up the syndicate executive ladder is the relatively small size of the industry.

"There aren't all that many jobs at a syndicate, and there isn't much turnover, so it's harder for women to step in," said Choice, who did mention that Universal has three female vice presidents -- Kathy Andrews, Elena Fallon and Donna Martin.

Other major-syndicate women at that rank, besides Tobias, include United vice president/director of comic art Sarah Gillespie and United vice president/executive editor Diana Loevy.

Wilson remarked that some syndicates have more women in high posts than others. "The improvement isn't across the board]' she said.

At supplemental wires, some of the top women include New York Times News Service executive editor Peggy Walsh, Knight-Ridder/Tribune Information Services editor Jane Scholz and Newhouse News Service editor/bureau chief Deborah Howell. …

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