Walter Kaitz Foundation Dinner: WICT Keeps Focus on Elevating Women in Industry

Sep 12, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Sherri Killam-Williams

Special to TelevisionWeek

A lot has changed in the 25 years that the Women in Cable & Telecommunications organization has existed.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the group’s mission: to develop leadership programs and research that will place women on an equal footing with men in the industry.

“WICT’s mission is to create leaders in the industry,” said WICT Associate Director of Marketing and Communications Melissa Northern. “Our leadership development programs partner with the industry to try to meet their needs and provide the training that operators and programmers want of their female employees.”

WICT, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2004, has about 5,000 members in 21 chapters nationwide.

Programs such as the Betsy Magness Leadership Initiative, WICT Forum, Executive Development Seminar and new Executive Management Symposium are all intended to provide women with learning experiences. The number of women participating in the BMLI doubled this year. WICT uses its grants from the Walter Kaitz Foundation to provide scholarships to EDS, EMS and the WICT Forum.

“It’s important to have a good understanding of diversity, and there is more than one kind of diversity,” Ms. Northern said. “Diversity of perspective is definitely just as valuable-it’s more than just gender and color.”

The key research component for WICT is what it calls the PAR Initiative, a survey that focuses on pay equity, advancement opportunities and resources for work and life support. Working Mother Media again partnered with WICT to implement the PAR Initiative and interpret the results.

While the 2005 PAR Initiative results won’t be available until November, the 2004 study showed progress in the area of pay equity policies. In the 2003 study, 65 percent of the companies surveyed had no written equity policy; that number decreased in 2004 to 40 percent. Women also made strides in the percentage of managers, rising from 29 percent in 2003 to 38 percent in 2004.

“In a perfect world, for every one woman there’s a man, a 50-50 split,” Ms. Northern said. “Everyone would have pay equity policies and work-life benefits. We see from the numbers that we still have a ways to go.”

More companies participated in the 2004 study because the companies who participated in 2003 received so much valuable information from the survey. “The companies that didn’t participate wanted that feedback,” she said.

When the 2005 study results are released, a consultant with Working Mother Media will meet with each participating company’s CEO to go over the numbers. “It will make a big impact on these companies,” Ms. Northern predicted.