Yesterday, the soon-to-be-shuttered Editor & Publisher reported that three top women newspaper editors are stepping down from their jobs. That leaves Nancy Barnes of The Star Tribune in Minneapolis and Susan Goldberg of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland as the only two women editors of the 20 highest-circulation newspapers in America.
Barnes also believed the diversity was a problem, but did not think it was irreversible. "It is a brutal business for women, particularly women who want to have a family," she says. "There are just different choices you have to make. But I believe we will grow more women editors."
This idea that women of younger generations will fare any better seems to me to be wildly optimistic, if not flat-out wrong. Most women in their 20s appear to have more promising careers because they have yet to start families. But when children arrive, families have to make tough choices -- often, choices that involve women scaling back their jobs to more flexible positions with fewer hours. The economic factors and lack of key social policies like universal child care that push women to "down shift" their careers today do not look likely to change tomorrow. Yes, young women will continue to enter journalism and begin to build their careers. I don't see any signs that my generation will be more successful at keeping them.
Then again, given the state of the newspaper business, maybe these women were smart to get out, regardless of the reason.