A Foreign Control Room

by Caitlyn McTier

“Ding.” As the elevator doors open, I walk in. Scanning my ID to get to confidential floors, I zip upstairs and walk into a place that I call my second home: the control room.

As a freshman, I find myself oddly confident in this space and some would call it a young journalist’s dream. A few more steps I take into a studio where I am expecting the norm - my regular co-workers to crack jokes with and a laid back show - but I am surprised. The door opens and there are representatives from ESPN.

To help you understand, I work for Crimson Tide Productions which is an affiliate of ESPN’s SEC Network. Coming into the program only a few short months ago, my mind was set and focused on doing whatever necessary to work myself to the top.

As an aspiring female journalist, the industry is traditionally known for being male dominated, especially in sports. It’s important to note that these representatives were all males. Though I was used to being in a control room full of testosterone, that day specifically, another female and myself found ourselves as lone rangers in a control room consisting mostly of middle-aged white men.

Many times people like to associate women in journalism with legendary sideline reporters like Erin Andrews or Maria Taylor, but very seldom do the women sitting in the dark studios and standing behind the intimidating cameras ever receive their praise.

Countdown started. Headsets on. The battle of volume begins.

Live shows are a thrill like no other. Knowing that every click from a tiny black mouse determines what goes into the houses of millions of American homes creates a high intensity environment in the control room putting everyone on the edge.

Demands left and right. “Pop this.” “Replay that.” “You must be quicker.” Now don’t get me wrong, there is such an adrenaline rush in pushing for perfection in this industry because that’s what’s expected, but the under-representation of females in the control room and behind cameras is utterly disappointing.

It’s important to note that my employers here at The University of Alabama are outstanding. Never do I feel hostility in my work environment, nor do I feel unequal to my male counterparts, but I think what is disheartening is knowing that after I leave the Capstone, I’ll be walking into a male dominated entertainment industry where not all people are so considerate and fair.

One-third of the media industry is comprised of women, but surprisingly reports show that women make up two-thirds of graduates with degrees in mass communications or journalism.

How can so many women receive degrees in communications, yet not be represented in the workforce?

For so many women, they are simply not being hired or being pushed out the door. Regardless of the job field, women are looked at as liabilities to many employers and are discriminated against for a variety of reasons, like needing to take a pregnancy leave, not looking “hot” enough for the man’s eye, and (for the more industrial jobs) not possessing the same strength as a man.

This concept that breaches media based jobs can almost be more apparent, because its wide ranging hours seem impractical for raising a family. Women also seem to have less chance of receiving a promotion. So, understandably, they leave because there seems to be very little opportunity for growth in the field.

Come what may, I know that being a journalist is my calling and passion. I want to be an individual known for truth and honesty in every character typed and in every word spoken. Though it can seem like a tough road ahead, I feel the price is worth pursuing what I love everyday. So here's the truth: Women in all aspects of the workforce experience discrimination and inequality in different ways. Here’s the dare: We must stop patriarchy from ruling our work environment and encourage women to not back down to men in the workplace allowing them to claim the power.  

Caitlyn McTier