Arizona Republic op-ed article by authors

By Kristin Grady Gilger and Julia Wallace

When Janet Coats was an intern reporting for a newspaper in Knoxville, Tennessee, her boss was a hard-nosed city editor who drank whiskey all day from a thermos.

One day, he tore into her about a story she had done, and Coats ran to the bathroom and burst into tears. A veteran police reporter followed her into the bathroom and locked the door. “She said, ‘You can cry all you want in here, but don’t you ever, ever cry out there. Don’t do it.’”

Coats never forgot that lesson. Years later, when she was managing editor of the Tampa Tribune, she once left the newsroom to go sit in her car and have a good cry.

Coats was part of an influx of women into news organizations in the post-Watergate, Title IX era who, in many ways, transformed newsrooms.

They made their way from features sections to city desks, where they covered crime and courts and city hall. They advocated for stories that included the voices of women and that reflected topics women care about – education, health and social justice, among them.

And they moved into editing roles, where they called the shots, not just about what news got covered but who got to cover it.

How they navigated a male-led world

During the past two years, we interviewed nearly 100 women like Coats who made it into leadership roles in newspapers, broadcast and digital news outlets since the 1970s.

They were a smart, tough and sometimes profane bunch, and they relished breaking barriers. Along the way, they learned a lot about what it takes to succeed in an industry where women still face many of the same challenges they did 30 and 40 years ago.

These were women who called in news stories while in labor and parked their babies under their desks. They had “trailing spouses” who followed them from one end of the country to the other, or they skipped marriage and children altogether, unable or unwilling to sandwich in a personal life against the press of the news.

They learned to navigate a world that was male to its core — and they were called pushy broads, and worse, for their efforts.

Driven by instinct or personality, some were warm and collegial, while others were bossy and uncompromising. Like all leaders, they were a mix of traits – outgoing, reserved, decisive and open-minded.

What does a female leader look like?

But as women, they quickly learned they could be some of these things some of the time but none of these things all of the time. They found themselves running up against their company’s and society’s expectations of what a female leader looks like and acts like.

Ask people to draw a picture of a leader and they almost invariably will draw a picture of a man. Ask them to list the characteristics of a good leader and they will use words like decisive, analytical, confident and competent.

Women who aspire to leadership roles must be those things, but only within in a limited range. They also must be nice, but not too nice; speak up, but not too loudly; and take charge, but not in a bossy way.

While it’s not impossible to navigate this narrow band of behavior, it does make the climb that much more difficult – and the prospect of failure that much more likely. More.

USA Today Column

There aren't many 'Stranger Things' than what women put up with in the newsroom

By Julia Wallace and Kristin Grady Gilger

Our daughters wanted to know: “Were newsrooms really like that in the 1980s?”

They had binged on Season 3 of the Netflix hit “Stranger Things,” and they thought one of the strangest things of all was the way the all-male editors treated intern Nancy Wheeler.

As an earnest Wheeler flutters about the newsroom trying to fit in, the editors make sexist jokes, call her Nancy Drew, turn down her obviously good story suggestions and complain when a sandwich she delivers doesn’t have mustard on it.

Yes, women put up with a lot back in the 1980s. They still do.

Over the past two years, we have interviewed nearly 100 women who made it into leadership roles in newspapers, broadcast and digital news outlets since about the 1980s. Their stories are funny and sad and hair-raising — often at the same time. MORE

State Press, January, 31, 2019

Cronkite professor Julia Wallace and Dean Kristin Gilger co-author book

By Brooke Newman | The State Press | 01/31/19 3:58am

In the 1970's, men could swear and smoke in the newsrooms but it wasn't acceptable for women to cry. 

It's this contradiction that helped Cronkite Dean Kristin Gilger come up with the title of her forthcoming book "There’s No Crying in Newsrooms: What Women Have Learned About What It Takes to Lead."

Gilger is cowriting the book, which is slated to come out in July 2019, with Cronkite professor of practice Julia Wallace. The book will tell the stories of women who came into newsrooms in the 1970s when lawsuits allowed them in, along with women working in present-day newsrooms.

"They weren’t particularly welcomed, but they fought their way to the top," Wallace said. "It focuses on women from then until current times, and how they got into leadership positions, what they did when they got there, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. More here.

ASU Now, July 5, 2019 (Q&A with authors)

Book chronicles challenges in the workplace and what it takes for women to lead

Finding a leadership style that works. Navigating workplace culture. Balancing work and family. Dealing with sexual harassment.

These are just some of the challenges women face in the workplace, but especially so in the rambunctious world of media, in which personalities are large, the stakes are high and mistakes are all too visible.  

“There’s No Crying in Newsrooms: What Women Have Learned About What It Takes to Lead”(Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2019), by Arizona State University professors Kristin Grady Gilger and Julia Wallace, tells the stories of remarkable women who have broken through barrier after barrier at media organizations around the country since the 1970s — and describes the challenges women still face as they navigate their way to the top.

According to the book’s authors, most of these pioneers “started out as editorial assistants, fact checkers and news secretaries and ended up running multimillion-dollar news operations that determine a large part of what Americans read, view and think about the world. These women, who were calling in news stories while in labor and parking babies under their desks, never imagined that 40 years later, young women entering the news business would face many of the same battles they did — only with far less willingness to put up and shut up.”

ASU Now spoke to Gilger, senior associate dean and Reynolds Professor in Business Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Julia Wallace, formerly a top media executive and high-ranking editor at four major newspapers and now the Frank Russell Chair at the Cronkite School, about the findings in their 216-page book. More here.