The Important Role a Woman Can Play in Leading the FCC

The Important Role a Woman Can Play in Leading the FCC

By Charlyn Stanberry
Additional reporting by Elesha Barnette

As President Obama continues to appoint new leadership positions within his cabinet, a replacement for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has yet to be named. A recent convening by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) heralded the importance of women leadership at the FCC, and among those in attendance were some of the top names being floated for the role of Chair.

To date, a woman has never chaired the Commission, but the impact of women in media – both in terms of what happens in policy space as well as in determining the images that are projected across the media is palpable.

“The role women play in shaping media policy in my office has always been paramount,” Commissioner Robert McDowell shared with Politic365. “The majority of my policy advisers have been women. In fact all of my legal advisers for media related issues since I started at the commission seven years ago have been female. This wasn’t by design. I hired the best qualified people and they’ve always been women.”

Currently, the bureau has two female commissioners, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.  They are two of many women who have helped to shape media policy for this country.

“Women bring unique perspectives to the equation,” explained Clyburn.  “A woman at the head of any organization excels and brings unique perspectives to the company, product, and the ecosystem she seeks to influence.”

During her time at the FCC, former commissioner, Kathleen Abernathy was able to use her position to work on issues important to her such as media portrayals of women and children.

“As a commissioner, you have a powerful platform that you just have to make sure you leverage,” she stated to Politic365.  “The media is the most powerful influence on our children which is changing. Not only do we have media but now we have the internet and blogs. We have to be careful of the images we place on TV because we are shaping the next generation,” she explained.

“The leaders in media decide how to tell the stories, and often what stories to tell. Those stories shape our society and even our individual identities,” stated Karen Kornbluh. “Women in leadership in any industry can also bring more women in by providing role models and creating a welcoming environment.”

Kornbluh currently serves as President Obama’s Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). She previously served the FCC as a Senior Policy Advisor to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. She says the decisions made by the FCC leadership can have far reaching economic effects too.