Posted by: chaselaing14cnuedu | September 22, 2016

Women at National Geographic

This summer I had the chance to intern at National Geographic, which was an eye opening experience. But now in class I have had time to reflect on my time there. One of the great things about working there was that there was always a panel to go listen to. Whether it was about trophy hunting, the oceans or upcoming thoughts about the program. One thing that didn’t stick out to me till now was the genders involved. Supposedly women are not as prominent in the STEM fields, but that did not ring true in my case. At these panels and symposiums often times there was more women on stage then men. Take the new emerging explorer class, half of them are women. And even the young explorers (ages 18-25) that I worked with way, over half in attendance were women. They are even holding a photo exhibit just about women. Even half of the executive office is composed of women; still no woman CEO but this is still progress.

I want to say that this is due to highly educated people and audience that National Geographic attracts. My experience was a media/science company that was basically ruled by all females. This did lead to a highly communal environment with everyone working with everyone. My department was constantly working with other departments and meetings were always happening. It was always a “Let’s do this together” feeling instead of a “You need to have this done”. This style of leadership and work environment was not one I was used to dealing with, and I loved it. My boss’s boss was female, the head of most departments were female, and the majority of staff was female. This is what I believe led to a very communal feelings to the company.

I see all of this as progress that this company is making. And it makes me wonder if any other places are like this? If National Geographic is just aware of the issue and is trying hard to make a difference? Or is it the fact that the company heavily relies on international help, which influences the number of women employed? I wonder if its due to the high education and awareness the company likes to promote? Or is it due to the women leaders, though not the top top dogs, influencing others?

Links below follow the examples listed in the first paragraph.






  1. That is amazing that there are so many women at National Geographic. I personally love their videos, talks, magazines and everything. I find it nice knowing a lot of the stuff I look at or read comes from women or a company made up of a lot of women. Also, being a female in a STEM field and wanting a STEM job when I gruduate it gives me hope that I will be able to find a job!

    I also wonder if other companies are like this. You said there isn’t a woman CEO, and there aren’t many in the US today. A lot of the stats we look at come from the highest levels of leadership in companies. So Nat Geo falls until those companies we talk about with no women CEO or women holding higher positions. So since Nat Geo has a lot of women, but just not in the higher or higjest positions, makes me want to believe that other companies are the same way! A lot of women, but males dominate the highest positions.

  2. Honestly this is so refreshing to read after so much negativity with the documentary we just watched. I think that Nat Geo is a perfect example of how women leaders can work side by side with male leaders. Such a world renowned organization is a trail blazer, and just like you, I wonder if they did that on purpose or because they just choose whoever is appropriately suited for the jobs.

    I honestly have never realized how few women are in the STEM fields, all I know is that women are highly sought out in these fields…or so I have been told. But there are so many female biology majors, chem majors, and math majors at CNU that you almost forget that this may not be the case for other schools. Looking at National Geographic does give me hope for my future in this field, however, I honestly believe that if companies such as Nat Geo continue this upward progress of having so many women in the field and leadership positions, that other companies will follow suit.

  3. This is amazing! I think this affirms my passion and excitement for working under other women. Women seem to bring the group together under a special bond that sometimes male leaders tend to overlook. The difference between my male and female bosses is strikingly different. The communal aspect of leadership is something I hold very dear to me and I will absolutely implement these aspects and practices into my own life and hopefully future business. Being a women with these qualities should be celebrated and not looked down upon. In many instances in my personal life I can definitely say that having a more communal leader strengthened the group and made team activities and projects much more successful and enjoyable. I know we still have a ways to go with getting women to the top, but I can only hope that this will happen soon! Women are too amazing to be stuck down in the bottom muddy slosh of old stereotypes and regulations that hinder the group from reaching their goals.

  4. It was so nice to finally read something that projected some positivity towards women in leadership. As you mentioned, the system is not perfect, but it is nice to finally see some progress. Who knows maybe in a couple years, there will be a female CEO. Based off this road of progress, I do not put it passed them. I also think it is very interesting that National Geographic is run by so many females especially since it resides in the STEM fields. This really gives me hope for the future.

    In class we always talk about the importance of role models especially for women leaders. It is hard for women to imagine themselves in certain leadership positions when they do not have a role model to look up to. Hopefully National Geographic’s structure will provide more women the proper role models to aspire towards. Furthermore, I have noticed an increase in promotion of STEM to girls and women in the recent decades. My favorite example includes the STEM Barbie , which comes along with her own legos and lab jacket. Talk about a great way for little girls to come into contact with math and science in a fun way. I also volunteer with a first grade class that primarily focuses around teaching math, science, and technology. The class also learns other subjects, but the main focus is around STEM activities. All the activities are taught in creative and fun ways. These are just two examples of great ways to increase girl’s presence and influence in STEM activities at an early age.

    The last part of your post that interested me was the environment of the workplace. You mentioned the positive, cooperating, collaborating, and supporting workplace. I think a large part of this could be contributed to the overwhelming female employees and leadership style utilized. It is interesting to see how women lead when they are given the freedom and ability to do so.The importance of women supporting each other could not be more important here. This idea also provides support to the “Great Women Theory” of leadership. As Kezar (2014) states, women as leaders add a whole new range of traits and behaviors to the leadership equation. Women leaders emphasize the importance of collaboration, ethics, communication, and relationships. National Geographic displayed all these qualities through strong women in leadership (p.118). Maybe there is more to this theory than I thought possible?

    Kezar, A. (2014). Women’s Contributions to Higher Education Leadership and The Roads Ahead. In K. Longman A. & S. Madsen R. (Eds.), Women and Leadership in Higher Education (pp. 117-129). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.


  5. Being educated is truly key to positive developments in society. By being ignorant of gender discrimination or even gender itself can lead to stagnation. Fields in organizations like National Geographic where people apart of the organization are highly educated. The amazing developments happening there in regards to women and being in higher authority in organizations such as this shows how education is really important in the way people understand gender and the implications it has on leadership. I believe awareness through education is key to pinpointing the problem and moving on towards positive change. For example with organizations I work with currently that deal with the ending human trafficking awareness is a huge step towards actually creating change. People need to know first before there is any reason to act. So it is really awesome to see such amazing organizations like National Geographic taking more steps towards change and having women be more apart of higher levels of leadership.

  6. I would have never guessed that a prominent, worldwide magazine such as this would be composed of mostly females. In the coming years, National Geographic will have a larger base of women who could be promoted to the top of this organization. If a company is all women and they hire from the inside then eventually there will be a woman CEO! The communal attitude fits in with typical female leadership. That sense of teamwork and a shared mission can take a group very far. I believe this trend of more women running organizations will only increase in the next decade. Let’s be honest, American culture can be very masculine so I am sure an international collaboration made your company more open to a feminine presence.

  7. I also didn’t know this about National Geographic, and it is so cool that you got to do that. I think the reason this organization has more women in higher positions is because it has always stood for awareness and helping others. Therefore, the people working there would already be in the mindset to be accepting of female leaders. And the more women that are present in the organization the more women that will be hired, it’s like the cycle of discrimination but one of positivity. I think that humanitarian/ eco-friendly organizations are probably going to be the places you see more workplace diversity regardless of the field it’s in. The people in these organizations are normally more progressive and are the ones that aren’t afraid to fight the norms.

  8. This is really cool and not only because you get the name emerging explorer. I cannot help but feel cynical though.

    • I sometimes wonder if the reason why there are some many women in leadership positions is because the company just wants to avoid the same scandal that most of the big companies go through. Or maybe they are hoping to receive investments from a particular group, and in order to do so majority of their leadership has to be women? The world is not perfect and as of late, it has been full of bad things. I just hope this is truly good, and not some plan to receive funding or a government contract.

  9. National Geographic seems to be a company that is based on compassion. For example, many of their articles focus on different cultures or environmental preservation. Perhaps more women are involved in the company because it is founded on values that may be considered feminine? This is not to say that men cannot be interested in these subjects, but that as your experience has shown, women tend to be more proactive in these areas. Like you mentioned in your post, the communal nature of the team you worked on seems to be an area where women can thrive. I’d be really interested in hearing the perspective of the executives responsible for building these teams. Did they intend for there to be such a noticeable female leadership presence, or did they not consider gender at all when hiring, but instead look for the best candidates overall? My hope is that it was the latter!

  10. What a remarkable experience! I am pleased to hear that women were fully integrated into National Geographic and that they were taking advantage of attending these seminars and meetings.

    My initial thought was TedTalk and how during the recordings, often times the camera spans the audience. Typically you see a decent mix of males and females, which serves as being refreshing, especially considering that by publicly speaking to an audience they are in fact leading.

    Additionally. speaking in general requires a lot of the same highly valued leadership qualities. It take assertiveness, communication skills, and expertise in a subject area.

    Lastly, my final comment for your blog post is that… the common question asked if women can make a difference…well I personally want to support National Geographic and even potentially pursue a position with them as a result of their workplace environment you have described.

    It’s nice to know in the midst of everything seeming bias, unfair, and unequal, there are also positive realms!!

    -Jen Duvall

  11. Im glad you enjoyed your internship at National Geographic. I remember you point out in class that you put on an event and did not get any of the credit for the event and that your boss’s boss took the credit. Was that just a one time occurrence where you felt that as an employee you were not getting the respect or recognition that you deserved? It is good to see such large companies making good strides towards a communal environment!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: