A new pair of heels for SJMC

Stephan Useche / Staff Writer

More than 50 percent of the United States population is comprised of women, according to the 2010 census, yet, less than 40 percent of women have leadership positions in newsrooms.

According to Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver, professor and dean emeritus, it is time for them to reach their dreams and accomplish what only men have been able to accomplish.

That’s why a center dedicated to women in communications will open its doors at Biscayne Bay Campus this upcoming fall.

The Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication, which was inspired and organized by Kopenhaver, is a center designed to help young women in the communication field to reach their professional dreams and goals.

The center is still in the planning process, but Kopenhaver plans on having a ribbon cutting and reception in the late fall of this upcoming semester. The center will only run part-time as it initiates, but once it’s settled and going, it will run full-time during the fall of 2013. Kopenhaver wants to start slow and see how the center progresses with time.

The center will be located in Academic II.

According to Kopenhaver, more women are getting involved in communications, but they’re not necessarily moving up into leadership positions; that’s why one of the center’s goals is to “support a new generation of female students by preparing them to become transformational leaders in the mass communication industries.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women comprised 36.9 percent of newspaper reporters, photographers, copy/layout editors, and supervisors in 2011. According to this same report, women made up 40 percent of the total television news force and 28.4 percent of television news directors, and comprised only 29.9 percent of the total radio news workforce.

“We’re going to run seminars and workshops,” said Kopenhaver.

The seminars will have guest speakers that will motivate as well as share their experiences in the field to those female students. This will provide them with the needed tools to succeed in the field.

“Hearing the stories of professional journalists and what they have had accomplished will make me chase my goals as well and push me to succeed to the level I want to because of their inspirations,” said Jackelyn Fiat, senior and journalism major.

The center will be an opportunity to young journalist women; these opportunities didn’t exists years before.

“When I was part of the school, we didn’t have a lot of opportunities,” said Veronica Van Derdys-Sztam, manager of graduate studies within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“There were a lot of women colleagues and it was really hard for us to get in the field,” Derdys-Sztam said.

According to Kopenhaver, more women are moving into the field, but some of them are getting discouraged and going to other areas.

As a result, the center will also perform research to examine why this sort of casualty happens to be the rule in many cases.

“Some of them are just remaining at lower levels and not being able to make that management jump,” said Kopenhaver.

Kopenhaver was inspired to create a center like this one because she has experienced the hardships of working in a field where it’s mostly male-oriented. Nevertheless, she has been able to be one of the first women to reach positions where only men were able to reach.

She was the first woman president of the Society of Professional Journalists in Miami, among others.

Kopenhaver has witnessed this demarcation throughout her career. The New York Times had its first female executive editor this past year, Jill Abramson; also, the Miami Herald has added its second woman editor, Aminda Marquez Gonzalez.

“I think the center is a great opportunity for the school and the students,” said Teresa Ponte, chair of the department of Journalism and Broadcasting. “This will better prepare our students for the media reality and the media world.”

Kopenhaver will direct the center with the help of journalism professors, as well as professionals practicing journalism, advertising and public relations around the country.

“I want to give women the same chance that everybody has,” said Kopenhaver. “We want to help them get ahead.”

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