Of course, an obvious statistic is that females make up roughly half of the general population. But according to a recent study by UCF, women are also around 10 to 20 percent of the APSE journalism workforce and as listed on Sports Business Daily, nearly 40 percent of NFL fans are female. There is no doubt women are interested in football and working in the media.
Below is an excerpt from a 2012 report published by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida. It was requested by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Let's just say that the results were not good:
"For 2012, the grade for racial hiring practices for APSE newspapers and websites remained at a C+, the same grade issued in the 2010 Study. The grade issued for gender hiring practices remained constant as well, recording the third consecutive F for gender hiring practices. The APSE newspapers have received a failing grade for gender since TIDES began issuing grades in the 2008 Report Card. Grades were not issued for the 2006 Report Card. The combined grade for 2012 was a D+." (SportsJournalismInstitute.org)
"How were you selected to become a voter for the AP Top 25? Are there any requirements to become a voter or anything particular in the selection process that is worth noting?"
To say that it is easy to find is a joke. The only information publicly listed on any of the AP websites about qualifications or selection process for voters is this:
"A panel of 60 sports writers and broadcasters from around the country votes on the poll weekly. All of the voters have an extensive background in covering college football." (AP)
The process bides highly on a hand me down and who do you know type of system. That does not mean the journalists have not extensively covered college football or are not qualified. Here's a more informative response I received by email:
“I was asked last summer by the local AP writer... if I would be a voter after one of the local voters left the beat. I was entering my second year on the beat after serving as our paper's national college football writer for three years -- and an NFL beat writer for the previous 12.
I don't know what the requirements are to be a voter. I think the selector has to believe that the person he selects will be conscientious, but there's no litmus test.”
Are there specific guidelines to the selection process that creates at least a short list of candidates? No, just broad criteria that leads to a buddy system of recruitment.
I also emailed sources of the PollSpeak.com and the Associated Press. PollSpeak.com emailed back with a link to information on their site.
Here is what they found out about how the AP chooses voters:
"The bureau chief, many in conjunction with the sports writer, select the voter(s) from their state/region. Some rotate the vote every year to give different members a chance, some don't. About half of the writers/broadcasters let the local sports writer or bureau manager know he/she is interested in voting; we also seek out writers/broadcasters. Usually we contact the individual directly." (Pollspeak.com Ranking The Polls)
"They have to be involved in college football coverage locally, regionally or nationally."
"We cast a wide net and seek out the best college football reporters in the country."
The only female listed as a voter on the AP site is Carrie Anderson. The voter list for 2013 will be determined this summer, but there still needs to be six women in the poll for there to be just 10 percent females. Anderson did not return my email and I kept the names of the voters that responded confidential since I did not request an official statement. It is also important to note that racial diversity is somewhat lacking, but not as drastic as the gender disparity.
There are enough sideline reporters, writers, and other females in media involving college football that there are plenty of choices. If anyone has the power to find an acceptable number of qualified women for the polls, it should be the Associated Press. The AP has around 3,700 employees globally with about two-thirds of them journalists and editors in more than 300 locations worldwide.
When a person thinks of a female in the media and college football, the name Erin Andrews of Fox Sports has to pop into their head. There are others as well such as Graham Watson of Yahoo Sports and Jemele Hill of ESPN. Hill confirmed via Twitter that she previously had a vote in both the college basketball and football polls.
However, there's still a stigma by some that believe women do not belong in sports. Deadspin reported about hate mail that Jemele Hill received including extreme sexism and racism (Let's Play "Count The Slurs In Jemele Hill's Hate Mail"). Graham Watson had an article devoted to bashing her titled Graham Watson- You Suck on the site SpitBloodtcu.com. The article contains vulgar language throughout and the writer even went as far as saying the following about Graham:
"...show everyone what's wrong with her, other than the obvious "she's a woman writing about a man's game" thing (sorry ladies...)."
Maybe, the Associated Press should heed the words of one of their own. AP writer Tim Dahlberg wrote this about Augusta National:
"They do have plenty of things to be proud of over the years. Admitting a few token women isn't one of them." (AP)
Note: Special thanks to the media members that responded, AP Sports Editor Terry Taylor, and PollSpeak.com.