Former USA Today editor-in-chief discusses gender equity in media at QU

Melina Khan, Editor-in-Chief

Women working in the media industry made 87 cents to every dollar men earned in 2021, according to Narrow the Gap. Joanne Lipman, a journalist and best-selling author, spoke to Quinnipiac University students on Monday about how to combat this inequity, break into the media industry and stand out in the workforce.

Lipman, who previously served as the editor-in-chief of USA Today and was the first woman to hold the post of deputy managing editor at The Wall Street Journal, shared insights from her career as part of the School of Communications’ Dean’s Speaker Series. President Judy Olian and Dean of the School of Communications Chris Roush moderated the event, which was held in the Mount Carmel Auditorium.

Quinnipiac President Judy Olian (left) and Dean of the School of Communications Chris Roush (right) joined former USA Today Editor-in-Chief Joanne Lipman (center) in a discussion about young people entering the media workforce on Feb. 27. (Peyton McKenzie)

Drawing on an illustrious career spanning four decades, Lipman spoke about gender equity in the media industry. When she joined The Wall Street Journal in 1983 after graduating from Yale University, Lipman said she was one of the only women in the newsroom. Although the prevalence of women in the industry has changed, the wage gap hardly has.

“To me, (the wage gap) is one of the major reasons why we need to get more women, more people of color into these jobs and into leadership,” Lipman said.

Lipman said she thinks the intersection of the pandemic and Generation Z entering the workforce will shape what workplaces look like, especially with the prevalence of technology.

“The younger generation coming up, which is almost half non-white, is coming into a workforce that was built by and for essentially white men, and are looking at it and saying, ‘Does this workplace work for me?’” Lipman said.

As for combating workplace disparities, Lipman advised students to “listen to the other voices in the room.”

“There’s always one or two people who are really quiet and they’re intimidated to speak, or if they do talk, somebody talks right over them,” Lipman said. “And one thing you can do right now while you’re still in school is when you see that, be aware of it. Look at who’s the quiet person in the room, who’s not speaking.”

Lipman also referenced “tiara syndrome,” a term that describes how women often wait to be recognized for their good work, while men often overestimate their abilities. She said this is one reason to amplify others’ perspectives.

“I think all of us can do our part to recognize people who may feel marginalized and bring them into our conversation,” Lipman said.

Erin Russell, a first-year public relations major who attended the event, said the discussion of the gender wage gap resonated with her because she had not previously considered how it might affect her.

Joanne Lipman (right) spoke with Quinnipiac President Judy Olian (left) about gender equity, equal pay and professional development during Monday’s Speaker Series event. (Peyton McKenzie)

“(The wage gap) definitely is something that I want to look out for, for myself in the future and not avoid, but be ready to take on,” Russell said.

Like Russell, Samantha Shaw, a first-year film, television and media arts major, cited the conversation around gender equity as her biggest takeaway of the event.

“I think that’s really important because as she kept mentioning, we are the future,” Shaw said. “I think just being more mindful of those differences is kind of where we can start, especially as we are going into the field. So overall, just paying attention to what’s going on around us.”

In addition, Lipman encouraged students to hone into their connections as they enter the workforce.

“Ask people questions when people come through, people like me, and your professors, ask them lots of questions,” Lipman said. “Seek advice from people.”

For those interested in entering the media industry, Lipman emphasized the importance of asking for advice from professionals.

“You might feel like you’re imposing by asking advice, but I find that people really want to pay it forward,” Lipman said. “Because whoever you talk to, somebody has helped them along the way and they’d like to pay it forward.”

As for her own advice to students, Lipman said to take advantage of opportunities to share their work. From sharing written content on platforms like Medium or Substack to posting videos to YouTube or TikTok, Lipman said the “barriers to access” media are lower now more than ever.

“I don’t think that you and your generation and colleagues understand how much you have to offer to people like me, to people in media currently, because you’re digital and social natives,” Lipman told the Chronicle. “You consume media in a different way, you create media in a different way.”