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Gender Block: news flash – women care about the world’s happenings too!

Hillary Di Menna

When I tell people I’m a journalist I get a lot of, “Ooh, you can be Carrie Bradshaw!” Not Christina McCall or Gloria Steinem . I am sometimes told I’ll be the next Rosie DiManno, not due to sharing a similar writing style—because we don’t—but because our last names are similar. Only the people who know me know my career path started with idealism and yearning for social justice through communication.

An April 2013 Ryerson Journalism Research Centre report, Women in the Field: What Do You Know? A snapshot of women in Canadian journalism, says, “As women prosper in Canadian journalism, there are contradictory signs. For one, they may not have entirely escaped the confines of the ‘Women’s Pages.’ … influential beats such as politics and crime remain male-dominated, with women covering only a third of those stories.”

In an Aug. 22 Salon article, Anna North writes, “the pantheon of journalists whose name recognition and clout have made them cottage industries is overwhelmingly male.”

There is not much difference with mainstream broadcast journalism. In Jennifer Siebel-Newsom’s documentary Miss Representation, TV host Lisa Ling says, “I don’t ever see gossip columns or tabloids reporting on Brian Williams’s personal life.” Yet Katie Couric’s love life (USA Today: Katie Couric goes public with banker boyfriend), fashion (Katie Couric’s choice of a white jacket after Labor Day did not go unnoticed!) and legs (Katie Couric’s Legs Worship on YouTube) seem to have garnered more attention than the fact she is America’s first female TV news anchor.

According to the feminist activist group, National Organization for Women (Now) female journalists are underrepresented in print, radio and television news. While the low number of women journalists is stagnant, groups advocating for change are growing. “The IWMF [International Women’s Media Foundation] believes the news media worldwide are not truly free and representative without the equal voice of women,” says the website for the 23-year-old Washington based organization. IWMF is not unique: Women Action and the Media (WAM), Women in Journalism, Journalism and Women Symposium (Jaws) and other like groups work to network and support females in the journalism field.

The glass ceiling in any profession isn’t new, but it is still beyond frustrating. None of my male peers have had the Carrie Bradshaw comparison. And though the comment may seem harmless, we can do our part to not limit our idea of women in the news.  Important stories are being shared and shouldn’t be masked by 1950s notions and fictional portrayals. And if they have to be at least compare me to April O’Neil; I can relate more to turtle- and radioactive goo-based story lines than fancy shoes.

A former This intern, Hillary Di Menna writes Gender Block every week and maintains an online feminist resource directory, FIRE- Feminist Internet Resource Exchange.

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