Amid lots of talk of work-life balance or lack thereof in Adweek’s “Women’s Issue” Roundtable, Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski described a sort of reverse glass ceiling situation in TV news. “I don’t think the glass ceilings are the same,” she said. “We have a lot of women anchoring morning news and cable dayside television. And in fact, I think the numbers may be skewed the other way.”
Brzezinski goes on to explain that in her industry, young women don’t steadily climb the corporate ranks until they are shut out of the C-suite for murky reasons involving child care and gender incongruence. More often they are promoted out of their leagues because of their looks, only to either burn out or make their lives totally miserable.
I think there’s kind of an inherent problem, which is somewhat sexist, although it is not overtly sexist, it’s something that happens almost subconsciously. And that is, a lot of young women are hired into television when they’re not ready, because other aspects of their … you know, what they bring to the table, [they] really shine brightly. And a lot of male executives will … and female, will say well that … you know, pretty or poppy or she’s got this. And it’s not the talent — she doesn’t have what backs it up. And I actually remember in my career being pushed up too soon and paying for it several times to the point where, by the time I was offered a really, really big possibility of a promotion at CBS, I said, “We ought to wait a year, because I’m going to get killed.” And I did wait a year — and I still got killed.
But the bottom line is, there are these inherent problems I think that leave a lot of women at the bottom and a few at the top who finally make it because they are so freaking scrappy that they somehow, somehow hang on and stay there. But those women, if you look at them, work around the clock, around the clock. They have lifestyles that are not balanced, they have lifestyles that have taken a toll, they have made tremendous sacrifices, and not the sacrifices that men who have made it to the top in our industry have made.
No one dared ask what ceiling faces the non-poppy women of television news.