The portion of women holding key management positions in radio showed a slight improvement in 2021. But more than two decades after gender data for the industry first began to be analyzed, women remain significantly under-represented, according to the annual Gender Analysis Study from the Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio (MIW) Group.
The annual study, which tracks the progress of female professionals holding General Manager, Sales Manager and Program Director/Brand Manager positions, has consistently used the same methodology since 2000, when the first gender study was released. The new report reflects calendar year 2021 data from 11,087 U.S. AM and FM radio stations, as accounted for by PrecisionTrak as of Dec. 31, 2021.
The new data shows 20.8% of the 11,087 stations had a woman occupying the General Manager position last year. That represents an increase of nearly one full percentage point from 2020, when 19.9% of stations had a woman in the GM role. Importantly, the proportion continues to show consistent growth from 2004, when the percentage of female General Managers was just 14.9%.
Females are more likely to occupy the GM position in the top 100 markets. In addition, these sized markets are showing more year-over-year growth in their representation. In 2021, 23.7% of stations in these larger markets (802 stations) were managed by women, up from 21.9% in 2020.
Sales Management Ranks Highest
As has been the case for years, the best management opportunities for women in radio continue to be in sales management. Just over one third (33.6%) of stations had a woman Sales Manager in 2021 (3,464 stations).
Once again, women have a slight edge in the top 100 markets. According to the latest MIW data, 34.9% of AM/FM outlets in these size markets (1,138 stations) had women serving as Sales Managers in 2021. That’s only slightly higher from 34.4% in 2020.
Although there continues to be progress, the greatest challenge for women in radio management continues to be in the Program Director/Brand Manager role. Women currently program 12.1% of radio stations (1,255 outlets), basically even with 12.2% last year. The flat performance in 2021 for women programmers comes after two consecutive years of growth.
In the top 100 markets, female programmers are slightly more common, accounting for 14.1% of the total number of Program Directors/Brand Managers, consistent with the 14.4% recorded in 2020.
“If the glass is half full, we should celebrate any upward movement, even if it’s incremental, as jobs continue to be eliminated in the continuing pandemic,” MIW Board President Ruth Presslaff said in a press release. “However, it’s disappointing that the glass isn’t filling faster for those in programming and MIW is paying close attention to this issue.”
To address this imbalance, the group began working with MRC Data last July to launch its fourth annual mentorship opportunity designed specifically for women in music programming. Those interested in learning more about opportunities for mentoring and career development can register HERE.
The MIW group is a volunteer 501(c)(3) charitable organization of top-level female broadcasters that uses its influence and resources to help women in radio develop strong management and leadership skills. It also advocates for the advancement of women to senior positions within the radio industry.