September 18, 2012 – Rachel Sklar, Founder of Change The Ratio and TheLi.st, spoke to the Shorenstein Center about gender disparity in the tech and media industries, and how the ratio of men to women could be shifted toward more equality. The event was co-sponsored by the Women and Public Policy Program.
Sklar, who is a media writer and social media entrepreneur, acknowledged that there is an increasing number of women in leadership positions, and while this is good news, "as soon as the ratio gets a little better," people tend to think nothing more needs to be done. Sklar argued that while progress is being made, the fight for a balanced ratio is still ongoing.
When there is a lack of women's voices in "places of influence," Sklar said, that signals a "lack of perspective." Women "bring new ideas to the table" and are essential in understanding all sides of an issue. There is monetary value when a company values women's perspective, Sklar added. "Doing the right thing," by incorporating more female experts in the media industry, "makes for a better profit," she said.
Sklar warned against "pattern recognition," which she described as a "preconceived idea of what a boss, an entrepreneur, an anchor or a president look like." This can be a good thing, she noted, as it allows a person to "see areas in which positive things emerge," but if a person's preexisting notion is the only standard with which to view the world, that person is "shutting off opportunities for innovation across a multitude of other sectors."
By Janell Sims, Shorenstein Center.
Photos by Heather McKinnon Glennon, Shorenstein Center.