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Editorial: TV Needs a ‘Girls Club’

Equality is still a myth. So concluded the writers of a Newsweekcover story this spring examining the state of women in the workplace— four decades after 46 females filed a landmark 1970 gender discrimination case against that magazine. We agree with their assessment, and that goes not only for equality among genders, but ethnicity, race, age and other ways people differentiate.

To be sure, the dedication among so many industry organizations, events and programs to promote diversity in our industry continues to pay off. And as many industry power lists prove every year, lots of women have terrific jobs at the top of the TV and entertainment business.

But the Newsweek story says something else we agree with: Just as the first black president didn’t wipe out racism, a female at the top of a company doesn’t eradicate sexism. So, as long as that balance remains a myth, we need ongoing efforts to keep moving forward. And we need those efforts to be relevant.

This is why we created a new event, which debuts this week in Los Angeles, “Keynotes & Cocktails: Women of Hollywood.” After we examined the TV industry by conducting extensive anecdotal research among women of all levels and many different sectors of TV, we concluded that what we didn’t need was another power list. We know there are women who have made it. Women in TV crave information on how to emulate those people, and how to discover their own way to cut a trail upward. They said they want access, insight, and also a safe place to talk candidly so they can feel comfortable asking what they have to ask—and those at the top can feel comfortable answering.

So, this new event will feature a guided networking session and some of the most distinguished female players in TV on the speaker lineup answering questions from the moderators, and the audience. And it will be strictly off-the-record. Among the speakers: Disney/ABC’s Anne Sweeney, CBS’ Nina Tassler, Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice’s Shonda Rhimes, WME’s Nancy Josephson, NBCU’s Bridget Baker and Fox’s Marcy Ross.

We thought about calling the meeting “TV’s Girls Club,” but the allusion to Boys Club might have been misleading. This is in no way an exclusionary exercise. Men are welcome and invited. B&C knows everyone doesn’t share the same ideas about how to turn equality from myth to reality, and no one person has all the answers (or all the questions!). So, come one, come all, come equality