Mind the Gap: A video about gender, journalism … and coffee

Talk to me.

I mean it. The issues addressed on this blog — gender roles, media stereotypes, the influence of technology on journalism– are big and complex. Making sense of them will require an open, diverse conversation. To get us started, I put together a  video that ponders one of the bigger questions on my mind lately: If most journalism students are female, why are women chronically underrepresented in newsrooms?

For more on the statistics referenced, read this post from earlier this year.

Thank you to the students who sat for interviews… and to the campus Dunks for handing over an extra plastic cup without any questions.

Between classroom and newsroom, the women disappear

The lone male student in this Northeastern University journalism class is seated in the back right corner. (Credit: Meg Heckman)
The lone male student in this Northeastern University journalism class is seated in the back right corner. (Credit: Meg Heckman)

This blog started as a project for a class I’m taking at Northeastern University, where I’m pursuing a master’s degree in journalism research. The course, called Reinventing the News, ponders how technology is shaping journalism.

Despite our 8 a.m. meeting time, the room is packed with about 15 students. And only one of them is male.

This bodes well for the numbers of women who will help shape journalism’s digital future, right?

Maybe not.

Women are, in fact, well represented in journalism schools and mass communication programs, according to a recent report from the Women’s Media Center. Since 1999, about 70 percent of students have been female.

Women have outnumbered men in college journalsim and communications programs since 1999.  (Source: Women's Media Center.)
Women have outnumbered men in college journalsim and communications programs since 1999. (Source: Women’s Media Center.)

That same report found a far different scenario in professional newsrooms:

women have consistently been underrepresented in occupations that determine the content of news and entertainment media, with little change in proportions over time.

In 2011, about 40 percent of newspaper editorial employees were female, just 3 percent more than in 1999. The same percentage of TV news staffers were female, although they made up the majority of producers, reporters and anchors. In radio, just 29 percent of the workforce is female.

What’s going on?