Women in the media
By Lauren Lukens
Over the years, the influence of mass media has grown exponentially with the advance of technology. While print newspapers and radio were once the public’s main source of information, people now rely on computers and television to educate themselves on the world through resources such as social media sites, news reports, and reality TV. Unfortunately, women are belittled worldwide in the media due to the “glass ceiling,” the invisible barrier that restricts women from achieving high-level positions in corporations and have not been able to excel as they should. Though the media has always been predominantly in the hands of men, women need to become more aware of their role in the media, get educated on why they are treated this way, and make proactive steps to be taken more seriously in today’s society.
We live in a racially and ethnically diverse nation that is 51% female, yet the news media remains staggeringly limited to a single demographic. Nationwide, women hold only 3% of influential positions in telecommunications, entertainment, publishing, and advertising, and less than 20% of news stories are about women. As you go further up the ranks in media positions, fewer and fewer women and people of color exist at each realm of the ladder. This means that in the United States, a believed democracy, about 97% of everything we know comes from the male perspective.
A main contributor to the “glass ceiling” is the common belief that all women need to have kids and care for their home while their husbands financially support the family. Though this is not wrong by any means, it is vital for some women to exceed this expectation to eliminate the symbolic annihilation of women in the media. Not every man needs to settle down with a woman just as not every woman needs to settle down with a man. This social constriction has been perpetrated by the media and is a limiting expectation. Women are looked down upon for not taking care of their families just as men are supposedly emasculated by domesticity. Avoiding pregnancy gives women a huge advantage in the workplace and makes them more valuable to the people above them.
While men are expected to dress professionally in a work setting, it has been deemed okay for women to be depicted as sex icons when they “dress to impress.” In the 2011 documentary “Miss Representation,” produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, there is a scene where Jay Leno, “The Tonight Show” host, plays “Guess if she’s a newscaster or a Hooter’s waitress.” On the flip side, if a woman were to use crude humor towards a man in the same way, she would be demeaned. Men in the media often get away with making jokes about women of power in bed and commenting on their appearance instead of focusing on their abilities and goals as a businesswoman.
It is commonly distributed that women are expected to be appealing to men in society, but this belief is a contributing factor in women’s misrepresentation. If women dress and act in attempts to attract the male eye, they will only be looked at as an object to drool over. To overcome this problem, women seeking power should dress classy and elegant instead of showing extra skin to make them look like they have a hot date with their boss when arriving to work.
The best way for women to be taken seriously and gain power in the media is to become educated and aware of these issues. It is not where you graduated from or what degree you have, your experiences and who you know are what put you above your competition. The more valuable you make yourself, the more seriously you will be taken.