Cox repeated as "Best Operator" forwomen to work for, while Discovery Networks was rated as "Best Programmer" in WICT’s 2nd PAR Initiative. Cox and Discovery will pick up Forerunner Accolades at Wed-night’s annual WICT gala in DC. Last year, The Weather Channel was rated best programmer. The study examines female employment in terms of Pay equity, Advancement opportunities and Resources. Unlike last year’s inaugural study, the ’04 results don’t list satellite or telcos as being the best places for women (although an overbuilder made the cut). When DirecTV and Qwest made the list last Nov, WICT drew the ire of cable execs who felt an organization funded by cable should not honor cable’s competitors, sources said. Rumblings led to unconfirmed reports that sr-level NCTA board members were pressuring WICT, even calling its existence into question. It’s not clear whether DBS or phone companies participated in this year’s study since WICT releases just the names of companies that made the Top 5 in 5 categories (see ‘Industry Bests’ below). WICT kept things vague, saying only that 7 of the Top 10 MSOs participated, as did 14 of the Top 20 programmers. Participation was up, reaching 32 companies, vs 28 last year. 20 companies from the ’03 study participated again, 8 did not and 12 are new to PAR this time. — Work to be Done: The PAR research shows women have taken "significant steps, [but it also] highlight[s] areas where substantial improvement is still needed," WICT pres/CEO Benita Fitzgerald Mosley said. Indeed, just 14 of 32 participating companies made the Top 5, and many of the same companies were ranked in several categories. — The percentage of female middle managers increased to 34.1% from 19.7% a year ago, and the number of companies lacking formal pay equity policy fell from 65% to 40%. Women account for more than 38% of the workforce at participating companies, and 38.4% of managers (similar to last year). Women of color remained stable, accounting for about 13.5% of employees, while the percentage of managers who are women of color grew to 8.55% from 6.5%. Women at the sr level of mgmt stayed nearly the same at 27% (26.6% last year), while women of color gained at the sr level of mgmt (3.4% vs 2.9%). Other findings: 80% of companies offer flextime (70% in ’03); 50% have job sharing (55% in ’03); 85% provide leadership training for mid-level and high-ranking women, while entry level women can obtain leadership training in 80% of the companies surveyed. — Industry Bests: A rundown of companies that made WICT’s ‘Best Of’ lists: (in alphabetical order). Best Ops: Advance/Newhouse, Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable, overbuilder WideOpenWest. Best Programmers: Discovery, HBO, Lifetime, Oxygen Media and Weather. Best in Pay Equity (6 appear because of a tie): Discovery, Lifetime, Oxygen, Scripps Nets, Starz Encore and Weather. Best in Advancement Opportunities: Cox, Discovery, Oxygen, Starz and Turner. Best Resources for Work/Life support: Cox, Discovery, HBO, TW Cable and Turner.