There’s little question that women are underrepresented in the global media sector. While companies say they are improving on this, a quick flipping of the channels on cable television often reveals man after man after man at the anchor desk—particularly in the business and finance media world. Women continue to chip away at that glass ceiling, and of course, more have entrenched themselves into leadership positions at top global companies. Scoring a coveted “analyst” guest spot on a news show could help open more doors. But many women professionals are not media trained.
Bloomberg says it is striving to change this dynamic with an initiative designed to get more women media trained so they can go in front of the camera.
Bloomberg’s funding of the New Voices program provides one-on-one media training for women executives in business and finance so they can be prepared to make appearances on various news outlets, including, of course Bloomberg. The program recently expanded to Dubai.
So why, do you ask, is Bloomberg extending this effort into the Middle East, of all places?
For a moment, toss aside any assumptions you may have about the Middle East and the status of women there—especially when it comes to the United Arab Emirates. Furthermore, many expatriate women working in the Middle East are doing so because they have opportunities otherwise unavailable (or not as well-paying) at home.
Walk into any office in the UAE, and not only is there a good chance that women outnumber men, but you’ll also find many women in senior positions. Part of the answer is that the UAE’s government, which has long sought influence on the global stage at a proportion far greater than its population (9.5 million, with about 88 percent of it expats), realizes it has to walk the walk. Hence the country’s leadership over the years has launched aggressive education, training and hiring programs for women—including one for its audacious space program.
Culturally, in many ways the Gulf is still a boy’s world, so there are plenty of incentives for women to work outside the home. Many women in the UAE feel compelled to have to work harder to get ahead. So quite frankly, they do, and often find themselves promoted into high-profile positions as a result.
By the way, this transformation in the UAE is reflected in the makeup of the country’s cabinet—which at last count includes nine women out of 32 members total (28 percent). Contrast that ratio with the U.S. cabinet at the Trump White House, which now has four women out of 21 seats—you can do the math.
Various programs in the UAE that elevate women’s voices include WiSER of Masdar, which works with academic and research institutions, women’s networking groups and corporate interests. This group’s goal is to create more education and training opportunities, which help enable young Emirati women to develop the necessary hands-on industry experience to contribute to industry. Organizations like WiSER offer the fundamental building blocks to support women’s competitiveness in the global marketplace; Bloomberg’s New Voices can serve as the visibility platform atop of those blocks.
New Voices’ work in Dubai follows progress in New York, San Francisco, London, Toronto and Hong Kong; Sydney and Mumbai will join the list later this year.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg offers these statistics to show how it's amplifying women’s voices in business and finance across various platforms:
Image credits: Leon Kaye
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He is also the Director of Social Media and Engagement for 3BL Media. His previous work can be found at The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. Kaye is based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.