Carolina Creative Campus – The Gender Project

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.


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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
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
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.


Kenji Yoshino in Memorial Hall

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The Carolina Summer Reading Program

It is mid-August, already. The summer has concluded and a new semester is well under way (although our first full week of classes has yet to be completed). Am I forgetting another 08-09 academic calendar year milestone? Certainly. The Gender Project has begun, officially.

This marks an important start in my year for many reasons. One being that I have spent my summer, and will continue into the fall, as an intern in the Office of the Executive Director for the Arts, working with Reed Colver on campus and community engagement. I will be posting on this blog periodically to track my experience and to offer not only my perspective as an intern, but as a student as well. I think that Carolina Creative Campus, the larger subheading above The Gender Project, is an asset to this campus because it inspires us to create dialogue surrounding the arts. There are many opportunities for discussion found throughout an academic climate, but none so unique as the arts. Particularly none so unique as the season created by Carolina Performing Arts and the performances specifically labeled The Gender Project.

I can’t think of a more appropriate start to an initiative based on dialogue than The Carolina Summer Reading Program. Reed and I had the opportunity the Monday before classes began to meet with a group of first-years to discuss last summer’s choice, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights written by NYU Law professor Kenji Yoshino. The book, in short, does a fantastic job in sparking discussion. Yoshino clearly articulates a theory about civil rights that is based in the context of litigation, and largely in the context of his own story. He crafts an approachable read that manages to be far less alienating than other examination of civil rights I have ever encountered. He uses his personal reflection, as a gay Asian American male, and appropriately applies those experiences to all who have suffered any sort of, as he calls them, covering demands. It was fascinating to hear discussion, minimally facilitated, that came from young males and females from a variety of backgrounds, races and experiences. The discussion that emerged was a testament not only to Yoshino’s book, but to the climate of this campus and the integrity of the students who populate it.

I will openly admit that I was nervous walking into a room full of new students. I was worried that what I had to offer would not be enough. That I would get 35 blank stares and two hours to fill. But what I learned is that facilitation, particularly in the case of The Gender Project, comes not only from what I have to offer, but primarily from what the group has to offer. This I find most exciting about the year ahead. A dialogue is a collaboration; it isn’t two parts me and one part you, placed side by side for examination. It is a blending, a mixture, of the catalyst (in this case Covering), plus my thoughts and yours. A relief to all, and hopefully not just me, who choose to participate this year in our discussion. There are no right answers, there are no expectations; there is only participation.

Yoshino asks for that in Covering. He relays a message of communication and acceptance. An appropriate and much needed tone for this project. Here’s to a fantastic kick off. Thank you to all who participated in the summer reading program, and to those of you who did not have this opportunity I invite you all to participate in some form or fashion this year. I look forward to our collaboration.


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The Gender Project

Welcome to the Blog for the 2008-09 Carolina Creative Campus – The Gender Project. Following on from last year’s conversation on capital punishment, this year Carolina Creative Campus is looking at issues of gender and identity, and how they impact us and those around us everyday.

So often our day-to-day activities are grounded in concepts and constructs of what gender is or means. As I have begun to talk about this project with people on and off campus the conversation often takes an immediate turn to the question – what do you mean by ‘gender’?

So, what do we mean when we talk about gender? What is it we are really talking about? Is it about the differences between men and women? What sexual identity means? Is gender dichotomized or does it fall on a continuum?

These are only a few of the many questions that will be addressed across campus and in the community this year.

You can check back soon at for an updated list of events and information, and keep reading the blog as the year goes on. We will be having a range of people contributing to this conversation as bloggers, and I invite you to participate by sharing your comments, and check back for other ways to share your perspectives and stories.

If you are interested in blogging, or know of an event, activity, or interesting class going on get in touch with us and let us know at or 919 843 1833


Campus and Community Engagement
Office of the Executive Director for the Arts

See Fall Event Highlights Here
Read more about Carolina Creative Campus Here

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