Posted by: madwheel12 | February 20, 2015

Women’s Media Center

This week, the literature on women’s under-representation or misrepresentation in the media intrigued me. I also found Lauzen’s article on the lack of women directors to be thought-provoking. I find this specific vein of study to be interesting because I am a Musical Theatre major, so this information pertains to my chosen field.

Upon doing more research on this subject, I found the Women’s Media Center. This non-profit organization was founded in 2005 and its main mission is to make women visible and powerful in the media. They do this through media advocacy campaigns, training women to participate in the media, monitoring for sexism in the media, promoting media experienced women experts, and creating original content.

The WMC released The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2014; this work is a compilation of statistics and facts on women’s representation in the media in 2014. Here are some points I gleaned from this reading:

-Women and minorities are underrepresented in film and when they are represented, it is usually in an overly sexual light (more so than men).

-When women are directors, female actors have more roles with speaking parts and fewer jobs focusing on their sexuality.

-Most statistics of women in behind-the-scenes positions in film are decreasing or remaining stagnant. In television, the statistics are more positive.

-Female actors make less money than male actors. For example, Angelina Jolie, the highest paid female actor in Hollywood made about the same amount as the two lowest paid Hollywood male actors in 2013.

-The way in which women are portrayed/dealt with in the media may determine how women are treated in a range of other business sectors.

In light of these facts, the WMC responds in a variety of ways. It encourages media businesses to create a work-life balance, encourage conversations about diversity in the workplace, hire women for behind-the-scenes rolls in film, and for studios to accept scripts that are about women and people of color. The WMC has also created two resources in particular that I found to be extremely beneficial. The first is Unspinning the Spin: The Women’s Media Center Guide to Fair and Accurate Language. The title explains it all, but essentially the book is a manual to use accurate and inclusive language in the media, rather than sexist language. The second resource is titled SheSource. SheSource is a way for journalists and producers to find women who are experts in a variety of fields for the purposes of interviews and guest appearances.

The link to all of these resources can be found here:

This organization gives me hope for the future of women in the media and women leaders in the entertainment industry. It is a practical solution to the problems we have been discussing in class. Do you think these resources will be beneficial to the public? Do you think they will really create change? In Lauzen’s article we read that studios are afraid of taking risks and shut down any attempts to diversify their production staff. What do you think it will take for these studio producers to “wake up and smell the roses?” We read about various reasons for gender inequality in the film industry, but why do you think it is such an issue in what is supposed to be an artistic (and therefore typically liberal) business?


  1. The WMC definitely seems like an interesting concept. I believe what they are doing will be largely beneficial to create change in gender biased industry. Generally, the best way that change has already been set in motion for women’s rights and gender equality throughout society as a whole has been through education and making people aware of the problem. It seems as if this is where the WMC is starting. The idea that they are not only looking for sexism in the content that has already been created, but are also creating original content is powerful. It gives women avenues not only to modify the current perception of their roles, but also to back this up with content and actions that promotes this new image. In order for the industry to take risks to include women more often, I believe it will take time, with efforts like this continuing, to change how women are perceived within the film industry. It seems as if things continue to head in this direction, that women’s roles will begin to change as they already have elsewhere.
    You bring up an interesting point that gender bias is so huge in such a “liberal and creative” industry. However, what strikes me is the human nature in this. It is intriguing to note that no industry, country, society, or profession has a complete lack of gender bias. When all of these labels are stripped away and gender gaps are looked at from a humanistic perspective, there is an equality found there. Human nature is to make oneself seem superior to others, and when all of the labels and caveats are removed, this will continue. I believe this is why there is still such a gender bias and discrimination against women, even in industries that are supposed to be innovative and progressive.

  2. Conveying awareness to a problem that any minority faces is the only way change will every happen and WMC are doing just that. I did not even consider the gender stratification of women directors until doing the readings for this week, so just that educational part will make a huge difference even though it will take time. If women directors, writers, producers work together and are given a chance to create a wonderful and powerful film, I think that will cause studio producers to wake up. We cannot forget the amazing work men directors and writers have done and the contribution they make to creating an equal playing field for men and women. The involvement of men will help create a bigger change for women in the film industry.
    The film industry will follow whatever makes money and if they do not think that women directors will make money then they will not hire them which causes this divide between the sexes. They want to make money and they will not give up money on a risky project because it might be a disaster, that is what I think causes the discrimination and inequality.

  3. I think the WMC organization is a great idea to educate women and men about the problems that women are facing on this career path. I feel that in order for there to be arguments for gender equality, then there needs to be an education on the topic. I think that this organization represents a lot of facts and provides it all on a place that is easily accessible. By having everything on the website and having this organization, I think that there is a great possibility for there to be change for women in media, as well as for women in general. When reading this I found it interesting that the WMC provides the SheSource in order for women that have made it to positions that are not highly dominated by women can be showcased. By having this resource, the WMC is providing another source of education. The more the women from SheSource are interviewed or get to make guest appearances, then the more people will be able to feel more confident about hiring women for certain positions. If one of the problems is not wanting to risk hiring a woman for a specific job then this should help alleviate that risk.

  4. I think that as long as the public responds positively to female representation in the media, major changes can be made among production companies and media outlets. I think that today’s media culture is thirsting for more women in the media and seeing the impact of female directors, producers, and writers. The same old Hollywood stereotype of a damsel in distress is getting old and we are seeing the effects among the people. I do think that there is a chance for change, especially with organizations like the WMC. The important thing to remember is that we must keep pushing forward. Creating equal representation for women will be a constant struggle and we have to continue to strive for equality.

  5. While I think the WMC is going to help a bit, it’s not going to be making the waves needed to change the industry. Big films are simply too big to ever take any risks, and as long as female directors and actors are considered a risk the industry will not take it. If a film flops it could mean the end of the corporation that backed it, they just take too much money for it to be anything but. If we can have enough successes then we might be able to make some progress as the industry starts viewing women as less of a risk, but anything but that will not have a large enough impact for major change.

  6. While the dissemination of information is important, it is not a solution for the inequalities that women in theater, or any other related industries. Informing people and releasing reports that reveal gender based inequality will not solve the problem. That is not to say that the aforementioned actions should stop, but rather that they cannot be looked at as a means of solving inequality in society as a whole. As a resource to the public, information is good, but I doubt that most people would read, or care about information released about inequality in the entertainment industry. This is in part, because most people do realize the importance that the entertainment industry plays in shaping societal mores and norms. Although in reality, the entertainment industry directly effects almost everyone, through movies, television shows, plays/musicals, and advertisements.

    In order to best disseminate this information, I think that it should not only be available to the public, but that it should be introduced in creative and interesting ways. The role of studios and production companies is to sell a product. Studios and executives within the entertainment industry will change their sexist policies when the attitude of the general public changes. This will be incredibly difficult to accomplish, primarily because the media is the primary means through which people form their opinions about the world and develop morality. Thus, while the film industry is supposedly an “artistic entity” it is subject to societal constraints.

  7. There are so many good ideas here, and i hate to play devil’s advocate, but how much to people want to change their perception, because that is what is going to make the difference. Society behaves the way it does for a reason and while bringing to light these problems, they aren’t going to change for years down the road – I guess better late than never. But as for immediate change, I don’t see anything happening.

    It’s going to take much more than simply disseminating information to change the role women play.It was interesting watching the Oscars tonight and seeing the acceptance speech discussing the payment of women in the workforce. I initially thought she was crazy, but after taking a step back, I realized that I was agreeing with everything she was saying. So, it’s forcing others to do that as well and take a fresh perspective that will ultimately change the situation and the world.

  8. It amazes me whenever I read about the pay difference between men and women and especially to hear about it in this field is nothing short of astounding. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest any inherent superiority for men over women in the field of acting or directing. The fact that this has not been addressed by laws or media is incredibly depressing.
    I think the problem of the sexualization of actors and actresses is an issue for both males and females. I often see and hear my friends and other women objectifying male actors and watching movies because of the attractiveness of the actor. I think if women want to end the sexualization of actresses, we must not contribute to the sexualization of male actors as well.

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