USA: Journalism and women scientists

Source: Columbia Journalism Review
Date Published: 22 March 2013
Author: Curtis Brainard

‘The Finkbeiner Test’
Seven rules to avoid gratuitous gender profiles of female scientists
There’s still a gender gap in the sciences, with far fewer women than men in research jobs, and those women earning substantially less, but it doesn’t help when journalists treat every female scientist they profile as an archetype of perseverance.

Such was the consensus that emerged from a discussion prompted by a March 5 post at Double X Science by freelancer Christie Aschwanden, who observed that:

"Campaigns to recognize outstanding female scientists have led to a recognizable genre of media coverage. Let’s call it “A lady who…” genre. You’ve seen these profiles, of course you have, because they’re everywhere. The hallmark of “A lady who…” profile is that it treats its subject’s sex as her most defining detail. She’s not just a great scientist, she’s a woman! And if she’s also a wife and a mother, those roles get emphasized too".


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Advancing gender equality in media

In my opinion, the most effective strategy to achieve gender-sensitive media is:

Increased gender-awareness training of media professionals
Greater action by audiences to hold their media accountable
Stricter enforcement of gender-focussed media codes and policies
More female journalists, editors and media house managers


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