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Carolina Creative Campus – The Gender Project » 2008 » September

Carolina Creative Campus – The Gender Project

Archive for September, 2008

Geek Chic

Will and I seem to be like minded, although we have never formally met (which should be remedied soon!). And no, we did not plan these posts, but I am glad my interests compliment the current conversation.

I recently read a collection of articles (Geek Chic: Smart Women in Popular Culture), edited by Sherrie A. Inness, for a current issues in mass media course. Inness examines articles that vary in depth and content, and the book covers topics as vast as cartoon characters and political figures. The effect of the entire collection is the over arching theme of the constructed image, and how images serve as a powerful source of myth. Myth is an important aspect in the construction of intelligent women because, Inness contests, it is myth that supports and reinforces ideals we, as consumers, may know to be false. One of the strongest examples Inness explores is that of the “dumb blonde.” Those reinforcements then create an undeniable reality that affects how topics of women and intelligence continue to be treated in mass media, and in daily life. So by perpetuating myths through constructed images in pop culture and mass media we are in turn allowing them to become a reality.

The idea of myth is fascinating in the context of this project. I believe that myth is one of the reasons why gender is so difficult to discuss; it is hard to distinguish whether or not our opinions about gender norms are rooted in our own realities or in deeply ingrained myth.

If you’d like to take a look at Geek Chic it’s available at Davis (ISBN HQ1421.G43), but don’t rush there today…I’ve still got it checked out.

Thanks for being a part of this dialogue.

ERIN

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Women in Journalism

Hello everybody.

My name is Will. I’m an English major with minors in creative writing and news-editorial journalism, and I’m excited to have the chance to contribute to Carolina’s Gender Project. I’ve worked on various desks at The Daily Tar Heel for the past several years. I spent the spring and summer studying in the British Isles, and I met Reed after contributing an article to the Carolina Performing Arts program book about an upcoming Memorial Hall show by the Druid Theater Company from Galway, Ireland.

In my features writing class Thursday morning, we had the opportunity to talk to Karen Jurgensen, editor for USA Today for several years, about what it was like to put together a news edition in the hours following the September 11 attacks. (She said USA Today had to scrap almost the entire design for the day; the new edition sold more than three million copies.) In 1999, Jurgensen made headlines when she became the first woman to be appointed head of a national paper. Most sources on the Web will tell you she started her career in a paper in Charlotte, N.C., but it actually goes back all the way to The Daily Tar Heel. She was an English major, which makes me feel decidedly better about my own career prospects.

Talking to her got me to thinking about a larger conversation that has been going on in the world of journalism for some time: the continued domination of the workplace by male writers. According to a statistic from one of the articles below (click the second link), women occupy just three percent of “clout” decision-making positions. The ratio of men to women in op-ed positions is also drastically unbalanced, although a few women have become household names in that sector – Cynthia Tucker at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Maureen Dowd at The New York Times come to mind.

There’s been many a good article written about this problem in the industry, and I’ve posted two of them below. Take a look if you’re interested in some further reading.

Stop the Presses, Boys! Women Claim Space on Op-Ed Pages
By PATRICIA COHEN
March 15, 2007

Catherine Orenstein, an author and occasional op-ed page contributor herself, teaches a seminar on how to write and publish an op-ed essay. At the time of the article, hundreds of women and also men (In fewer numbers) had taken the seminar, and Orenstein had received clips of published essays from about two dozen of her former students.

Voices too often missing in op-ed land: women’s
By CAROL JENKINS
July 16, 2008

Among the parties at fault for the scarcity of women op-ed writers, writes Jenkins, editors share in the blame — but it’s also up to women to participate more assertively.

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Gender Project Photographer

Hello, everyone.

My name is Jordan. I am a senior Journalism major, Dramatic Arts minor. This year I have the great fortune of being photographer for The Gender Project. Last year I watched our campus engage in an amazing yearlong discussion about capital punishment. This year I expect nothing but great things from the Gender Project and, from what I’ve seen so far, our campus is not going to disappoint. Last week I documented groups of first year students talking about our summer reading, Covering: A Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, one of which included Kenji Yoshino, the author. I also attended a lecture and Q&A session with Yoshino in Memorial Hall. All I have to say is that, if this is the standard of intellect and enthusiasm to which I can hold our students and faculty, then I can’t wait to see where this discussion takes us this year. Everyone had an opinion to share and everyone was ready to hear it. People were disagreeing, agreeing, discussing, thinking and learning with each other. That, my friends, is what this is all about and I can’t wait to document and share the story of the Gender Project.

-j

Kenji Yoshino in Memorial Hall

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