Current Issue Summary

Vol. 49, No. 4, Fall 2021

Extreme Measures Target Afghan, Iranian Journalists

Danger looms for journalists around the world, as hostility toward the press by some governments escalates from irritation to physical threats, intimidation and incarceration.  For women journalists in Afghanistan and Iran, and women in the Iranian diaspora covering that country from elsewhere, careers are crumbling from the constraints.  In September, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) determined that that fewer than 100 women journalists are still formally working in privately-owned radio and TV stations in the Afghan capital.  In this issue, MRTW excerpts from the report and from accounts offered by women journalists who have fled to freedom.

How the Press Framed a 9/11 Call from United Flight 93

On Sept. 11, 2001, United Airlines passenger Todd Beamer dialed 911 from the hijacked plane flying over Pennsylvania.  He reached GTE Supervisor Lisa Jefferson, a Black woman, who stayed on the line with him for 13 minutes until he and other passengers rushed the cockpit.  In the current issue of Journalism History, Pete Smith and Hazel J. Cole analyze the press framing of the woman who took part in this extraordinary conversation.  MRTW summarizes their analysis, which concluded that the framing’s chief value, in contrast with common negative media stereotypes of Black women,  was “in showing Black women as cultural heroes and role models in times of national crisis.”

Disney Princess Culture: A Force for Good?

In the longest study to date on the impact of princess media on consumers, new research from Brigham Young University professor Sarah Coyne found that children who engaged with princess culture were more likely to later hold progressive views about women and subscribe less to attitudes of hegemonic masculinity. In a widely publicized study from 2016, Coyne found that princess culture magnified stereotypes in preschool-aged girls. As years went by, Coyne continued her analysis and stayed in touch with participants as they reached their early teen years. The results of this new study, published in the journal Child Development, indicate that engagement with princess culture actually results in a positive impact on child development over time. “Our prior study found that in the short-term, princess culture had a negative effect. But this changes over time,” she said. “We’re now seeing long-term positive effects of princess culture on how we think about gender.”

Female Board Level Opportunities Fall in COVID Era, Survey Says

The trend toward increased opportunities for women on corporate and non-profit boards is the latest casualty of the COVID crisis and it may take new government regulations to achieve true board diversity. These are the key findings of the member survey of the independent WomenExecs on Boards (WEoB), the global network of women who completed board governance programs at Harvard Business School and whose mission is to position qualified members to serve on boards through networking, peer support and education. The survey was released in September 2021.  Sixty percent say lack of support regarding flexible work/hour schedules is among the biggest challenges they face.  And with the pandemic-induced pivot to remote work, almost half of the survey respondents agree that technology needs to be in place to ensure that “not-in- the-room” workers are included in meetings, promotion opportunities and assignments.

Independent Movies Are Golden for Women Working in Film

Documentary films continued to employ higher percentages of behind-the-scenes women than independent narrative features in 2020-21, according to report released in August by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.  Women accounted for 42% of individuals working as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers on documentaries versus 35% of those working on narrative features streaming/screening at 20 high-profile film festivals in the U.S. Moreover, the fests streamed/screened almost equal numbers of documentaries directed by women (an average of 7) as by men (an average of 8).   Festivals screened an average of 6 narrative features directed by at least one woman versus an average of 9 narrative features directed exclusively by men.

Research in Depth: US Democratic Debates: How Non-Dominant, Intersectional Identities are Reflected in Media by Dustin Harp, Jaime Loke and Ingrid Bachmann

Research in Depth:  Combating the Angry Black Woman Stereotype at Work Through Demeanor and Praise by Erin Perry

Plus News Briefs and Book Reviews!

Media Report to Women has hard copies of back issues dating to its founding in 1972 and PDFs from more recent years. Indispensable for research!