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Cable Show 2013: Clyburn Says Being First Female Chair 'Racheted Up Pressure'

Complete Coverage: Cable Show 2013

To loud applause and at least one whoop, FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn addressed a WICT luncheon crowd Monday as the group handed out its Signature Spirit Accolades for community service. "Any group whose purpose is to create women leaders is my kind of group," she said at the Cable Show in Washington.

She had praise for other African American leaders as well.

"Not so very long ago, the idea that an African American from Chicago would become the most powerful person in the world also seemed improbable....but Oprah did it."

Clyburn said being named by the president to be acting chairwoman was her highest professional honor, but added that her audience would not be surprised to learn she felt that being the first woman "ratcheted up the pressure just a little bit." As did walking the ground floor of the FCC and seeing all those portraits of the former chairmen. "As you walk down the hallway, you start to detect a pattern."

She said women had made progress on the road to equality, "but we still have a lot of work to do."

She said the FCC has been working to expand opportunities for women both internally and in the industry. Internally, she said, female attorneys outnumber the men, while 50% of engineers at the FCC are women. She said the FCC is also working to remove barriers to market entry for women and minorities.

FCC sources have credited Clyburn with insuring that the FCC did not act on media ownership issues until it had collected more comment on the impact of proposed rule changes on ownership diversity.

Clyburn also gave WICT a shout out for its own empowerment efforts, which she called "complementary and vital," including the cable industry's PAR initiative for measuring the status of women in the cable workplace.

The Spirit Accolade winners saluted at the lunch were:

Comcast's Internet Essentials broadband adoption program.
Time Warner Cable's "Connect a Million Minds" STEM education initiative.

Lifetime's "Your Life. Your Time. Your Vote." voter registration campaign.
USA Network's "Characters Unite" effort to combat prejudice and intolerance.

The State Department/ESPN Women sports mentoring program.