The Powerhouse Women of POLITICO

By: Claire Goldberg

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, five women from POLITICO’s leadership visited Georgetown to discuss what it’s like being a part of a largely-female executive team, and how they work together to ensure a supportive and highly-professional newsroom.

Compared to last week’s Pentagon Papers event, which was dominated by men, including Daniel Ellsberg and Bob Woodward, the discussion was well-balanced, answers were insightful and concise, and each panelist was conscious of what their colleagues were saying. While the male panelists at the Pentagon Papers discussions gave long-winded answers, sometimes not even addressing the actual question that was asked, and frequently talked over one another, these women really demonstrated why women in leadership are so successful.

According to Poppy MacDonald, the president of POLITICO’s US operations, their newsroom is pretty much 50/50 in terms of women and men, and the females who are in charge make sure to account for the needs of their male employees as well, including giving maximum paternity leave and providing employment packages that allow fathers to spend time with their children. She also discussed the women’s leadership styles, which include listening to each other and addressing any ideas or concerns, instead of having egos that prevent people from hearing any view except their own.

“As a newsroom leader you have to be humane, and I think that works to both the benefit of men and women,” said POLITICO Editor Carrie Budoff Brown.

The publication itself, which is the leading source of government news in America, has a reach of almost 30 million people monthly, according to Quantcast. The daily D.C. debrief, Playbook, has well over 100,000 subscribers.

“I like to think of it as the ESPN of politics,” said Anna Palmer, the co-author of Playbook. “It’s who’s up, who’s down...It’s just about decoding and trying to give the backstory of what’s happening and how things get done.”

To be able to hear from women that work on all sides of the publication, with Alexis Williams, the Vice President of POLITICO’s events team, and Cally Baute, the Vice President of audience solutions, showed a diversity of skills paired with a consistency of leadership tactics. Each woman stressed the importance of strong family leave policies and making sure that staffers of all levels were heard and respected.

This panel was the quintessential example of why it’s not just important, but necessary, for women to be in leadership. POLITICO is successful because it is well-rounded, and because it is able to be professional and personal at the same time. The women mentioned that sometimes as a woman, especially as a young woman, people don’t take you seriously. To combat this, Palmer advised that “you have to be tenacious,” advice that rings true for women in all fields trying to push past sexism and climb to their rightful place at the top.