November 19, 2012

The really bad news is that women are appallingly underrepresented in the media industry. The good news? Women are doing something about it — and having a good time in the process.

The 2012 Women’s Media Center Awards was a marvelously glam networking event and here are some photos to prove it.

Held on Nov. 13 at the lovely Gustavino’s party space on E. 59th Street in Manhattan, it was a chance for me to dust off my $25 chandelier earrings from the trip to India, pull out the good cashmere dress coat and catch up on what’s doing in the world.

Individual tickets cost $450. The 10-seater tables ranged in price from $10,000 to $100,000. These  women were holding an annual fundraiser that meant business: $700,000 was raised that night for the cause.

I was the guest of my dear friends Jeannie Park and Helen Zia. Also at their table were Helen’s spouse Lia Shigemura and her sister Humane Zia. Friends included Wendy Lin, Toko Serita, Theresa Loong, Sital Patel and Maria Sandoval. It was a mix that  brought together the current and past presidents of the Asian American Journalists Association New York chapter, a judge, a lawyer, a jewelry designer, a documental filmmaker and a human resources executive.

The dinner was attended by VIP legends galore, including Barbara Walters and the sisters Laura and Lisa Ling. Lots of photos to take, the Asian thing to do! All the photos on this post were taken on my iPhone except for this next collage. The pictures are from Helen’s personal camera roll:

Anne Hathaway, the evening’s celebrity host who attended with husband and security force in tow, also seemed to be enjoying herself. At one point, she jumped up to the microphone and told everyone, “My husband said this is the ballsiest group he’s been in!”

I’ll drink to that! But seriously, after hearing the statistics, I really needed a drink (or two, or three). The reality is that even though the United States is 51 percent female, only 24 percent of the people seen, heard or interviewed by the media are female. Only 12 percent of all stories out there are about us.

When the Center monitored 84 news websites, it found that women were only news subjects in 23 percent of the stories. Things are even bad at National Public Radio, which is viewed as so progressive: Women represented only 26 percent of the news sources.

As for the “Heavy Hundred” of 2011’s most important radio talk show hosts, it includes only 13 solo female voices, plus three who are co-hosting. The infuriating list of shame goes on and on; the Center’s website has a full report.

Airing the problem in a festive, powerbroker-filled setting has motivated me to make a humble donation.  I left the event inspired to work harder and smarter as a journalist, woman and human being. Going forward, I will surely be more beautiful too, thanks to the swag bag handed out at the end…

It included a cologne stick, three bottles of anti-aging cream (I can take a hint). There was also a memo pad organizer, a mouse pad, two sleeping beauty eye masks and a Michelle Obama book filled with shots of her famous triceps.

We left that night with more momentum. So let’s hear it for girl power; 2013 can be ours. Yes.