Communications, Media & Gender

Mainstream media and the communications sector are still largely male-dominated in management, ownership and representation. Women hold only 3 percent of leadership positions in the sector. And despite the parity of female and male graduates from journalism schools in the U.S., women reporters on average make $9,000 less per year than their male cohorts. New media and the internet are offering new opportunities for women’s involvement, with an estimated 7.3 million more women online than men and 23 million women who use blogs, including the emerging “momosphere,” or moms who blog. A vibrant feminist media is building alliances to combat sexism and amplify voices and critical viewpoints. Initiatives from our network, such as SheSource and the Women’s Media Center, are aiming to address the absence of women as experts and opinion leaders in the public sphere.

GIRLS FORUM: Round-Up

February 13, 2009 posted by Linda Basch Last week we reached out to advocates and scholars working on issues affecting girls’ lives to submit their Girls Agenda 2009: More funding for teen dating violence prevention? More attention paid to the international trafficking of girls? New programs to promote the health, safety, and well-being of future women?  Effective, comprehensive sex education in our schools? The responses we received were dynamic, fresh, and exciting.  Deborah Tolman, Professor of Social Welfare, Hunter College School of Social Work, suggested that in order to enhance girls’ resiliency, we must do more than reduce risk—we must provide encouragement so that they may live their lives in the positive.  Lyn Mikel Brown, author of Girlfighting, offered an insightful critique of the “mean girl” phenomenon and recommended a strength-based approach: “We affirm girls’ relational and political strengths by giving them reason to believe they can count on one another and work together to solve social problems.”  Allison Kimmich, Executive Director of the National Women’s Study Association, drew on Obama’s role as both father and policymaker, nudging him to make policy decisions in the same manner he parents.


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GIRLS FORUM: Lyn Mikel Brown Counters the “Mean Girl” Onslaught with Strength-Based Programs

February 5, 2009 posted by admin As someone who studies girl culture and as a mother of a 13 year old, I can't miss the avalanche of "mean girls" in the media and what it suggests to my daughter; to all our daughters. Can we imagine a girl-targeted reality show, sitcom, or drama that doesn't revolve around a catfight?  Do we really need more movies like Bride Wars or another Jennifer-Angelina magazine cover with an inset of Brad in the corner? It seems like the only public displays of sisterhood we see any more involve girls collectively dissing other "bad" girls or commiserating over break ups with guys. As an education professor, I spend a lot of time in public schools.


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GIRLS FORUM: Navigating Girlhood to Womanhood from New Moon’s Nancy Gruver

February 5, 2009 posted by admin We asked activists and scholars in the girl’s rights movement to draft a letter to President Obama, outlining their Girls Agenda for 2009.  Here’s what Nancy Gruver, founder and CEO of New Moon Magazine had to say: Dear President Obama: As Malia and Sasha’s proud father I don’t need to tell you how having daughters can give you new eyes on the world.  My daughters, Mavis and Nia, are adults now.  But it feels like just last week that they were ten years old and I was worrying about how to help them navigate the treacherous journey from girlhood to womanhood.  We started New Moon Girls magazine together to give girls a place to express themselves and make the world better. I believe you agree that growing up should mean increasing opportunities as well as responsibilities for our daughters.  It should mean increasing respect and rewards for their intelligence, creativity, and skills.  It should mean they have access to equal education and healthcare, including effective pregnancy prevention.  It should mean they have the freedom to walk down the street or go on a date without worrying they might be attacked just because they are female.


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GIRLS FORUM: Deborah Tolman on Enhancing the Resiliency of Girls

February 3, 2009 posted by admin We asked advocates and scholars working on issues affecting girls’ lives to address the national conversation on girl’s needs, desires, and rights. What would they like to see changed?  Below is the first response in this week’s forum: Health is not just the absence of disease or risk.  It is the ability to live in a healthy body, with a healthy mind and spirit.   Girls need more than the elimination of risks and dangers in their lives, environments, schools, neighborhoods, homes. They need the encouragement and information that can enable them to live in the positive.   Most government funded research focuses on what, how and sometimes why negative practices, forces, impacts can be eradicated.   How about some effort, energy and resources getting behind what works for diverse girls?  What girls need to enhance their resilience not just to minimize their risks?


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Blog Post Overturns Wrongful Termination

January 16, 2009 posted by Linda Basch I wanted to share with you an exciting victory that came across my desk during the holidays.  After bringing forward sexual harassment charges at Chili’s in August, a server named Rachel Spicuglia was fired two weeks before Christmas.   As a direct result of a quick and passionate response made by her sister, Rebekah Spicuglia,who wrote about the case on the Huffington Post and launched a petition, Brinker International re-hired Rachel.


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NEW YEAR'S FORUM: Elizabeth Holtzman Demands We Not Forget About Women

January 9, 2009 posted by admin New years, new administrations, change itself generally elicits a feeling of optimism in me--and I can’t repress that sense now.  Here are my hopes and concerns. I feel glad to see President Bush and his team go: they wreaked such damage on our country and the world--and undermined our deepest values by riding roughshod over the constitution, thumbing their nose at the rule of law and torturing people.  I hope that the country will take proper steps to hold them accountable for their actions even after they are out of office.  The past Administration was also hostile to women, particularly to our right to birth control and choice, treating us as though we were children incapable of making critical decisions for our lives.  Relieved that is over, but am still troubled by the efforts of too many to continue to control what in the end are deeply personal decisions for women, decisions that define our humanity. I hope that these efforts diminish in the years ahead. Americans face a ruined economy, and I am deeply afraid that women and children will be the biggest victims.  With the safety net of welfare gone, what will happen to the poorest of the poor?  Welfare was a concept that President Roosevelt adopted as one way to deal with the devastation of the Great Depression; while deeply flawed, it still reflected a national commitment to poor women and their children.  I hope that in these dire economic times we don’t lose sight of the needs of this vulnerable group.


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Join Women's Media Center's Progressive Women's Voices Program

December 10, 2008 posted by admin The Women's Media Center is offering training to researchers, advocates, and other experts who are interested in boosting their media skills.  Learn how to craft strategic messages and talking points and practice your commentator skills.  The deadline is December 15th.  For more information, or to apply, click here.


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Women Send Their Messages to Obama-Biden, Loud and Clear

November 18, 2008 posted by Vivienne Heston-Demirel In the spirit of continuing to send messages to President-elect Obama and his transition team, we bring you this week’s round-up of links to campaigns from those in our wider network.  Amazing work going on out there.  If we’ve missed you, please let us know! The first issue of Ms. magazine in 2009 - which will hit newsstands just as President-elect Obama is sworn in – will feature the best of readers’ ideas for moving forward to make the change we need.  Enter yours by clicking here.


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TRANSITION FORUM Recap

Last week, we asked prominent leaders of women's organizations to send us their messages to President-elect Obama and his transition team. We asked these leaders to speculate about how might life be different—more equitable, healthier, more secure—for women and girls in an Obama era. What are their visions for an Obama Administration? Who are their ideal Cabinet picks? What new offices, government departments, or agencies would they like to see set up? What’s been most missing in President-elect Obama’s platform around women’s issues, and what messages would they like to send the transition team to rectify these lapses going forward? How do we move women and the issues women care about most from the margins to the center in this new administration?


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Women Leaders Dream Big, Urge Transition Team to Bring Women and Women’s Issues to the Center of the New Administration

November 7, 2008 posted by Linda Basch A new administration, the cap to a long and exciting election campaign, and change is in the air. We have much hope, but we also have big issues to tackle.  The economic crisis brings particular urgency to the issues foremost on our minds.  At the Council, we've been talking about economic security, but now we need to talk about economic recovery  and the ways women are particularly affected.  Women are more likely to be in foreclosure and hold sub-prime mortgages (32% more likely than men despite better credit scores), more likely to be poor, to be earning minimum wage (68.4% nationally), and to lack adequate health insurance.  These challenges are not unique to women, they affect families, communities, and the entire nation.


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