This great story about women in music journalism makes a strong case for why technology has the potential to help close the media gender gap.
As author Joe Rivers explains, music writers have historically been mostly men, but the web is giving aspiring journalists of both genders new ways to build their reputations:
If you wanted to be a music writer forty years ago, what would have been your route to success? Most likely it would have involved attempting to live the rock n’ roll lifestyle, developing contacts and a personal connection with the movers and shakers of the music industry, and the gumption to doss down in London wherever the story was. That’s not to mention having a Y chromosome, which was practically a pre-requisite. Nowadays, it’s how you utilise the internet to fit what you want to do, and your genetic makeup is going to have far less of an impact on whether you succeed.
When I still worked for a newspaper, one of my favorite things was digging through the morgue. Each overstuffed filing cabinet held decades of old news, including stories from the paper’s long defunct women’s section.
I often dismissed such stories as misogynistic, old-fashioned fluff — something I’m rethinking after reading this piece in the Columbia Journalism Review. As it turns out, women’s pages have an important — if complicated — place in feminist history.
reserving a separate space for “women’s issues” meant that things like parenting, fashion, and the beginnings of the feminist movement got column inches, the separation also demarcated the women’s page as the site of less newsy content, a “pink ghetto” that still persists.
Women’s sections debuted in American newspapers in the late 1800s, and were often the only place willing to hire female journalists. Although these sections were often devoted to lighter matters like housekeeping, society happenings and fashion, they slowly became an arena for serious topics like birth control and workplace equality.