Posted by: melissarizor | March 29, 2015

Women in Media

Throughout the semester, we have analyzed a number of societal issues and various problems that women are facing today, in and outside of leadership. One of the more recent topics is the portrayal of women leaders in the media. However, something that many of us have struggled to justify is how are we supposed to cause this perception to change, and what this change might look like. When asked: well how would you, as a leader, change this issue, or do it differently? Many of us draw a blank.

Linkage is a global leadership organization that maintains the mission of “inspiring people, generating ideas, and providing practical approaches to make a positive change in leadership”.

http://www.linkageinc.com/change-and-transition/service.cfm?sid=Customized%20Solutions-11

The interesting part of the organization is that they have a whole section of their mission and organization that is dedicated to advancing women and inclusion. Within this section of their company, they also spend time discussing change and transition, and how these two things are intertwined and related. In this lens, they offer a six-step methodology for change, especially for women in leadership positions:

  1. Make the case for change
  2. Enlist stakeholders
  3. Communicate the vision
  4. Remove barriers
  5. Set milestones and acknowledge progress
  6. Reinforce the change

Describe what you think is the most prevalent problem that women face when it comes to their representation in media. Do you think that the steps provided by Linkage can be applied to some of the concepts and issues that we have discussed? Further than this, does the plan change for women in leadership positions? How would you apply this methodology in order to change the way that media portrays women?

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Responses

  1. Women face a vast array of problems with regard to the media, but the most problematic issue women face due to the media is being hyper-sexualized. The hyper-sexualization of women continues to grow even greater as time goes on with more and more portrayals of women as objects of men for pleasure. These images that are broadcasted through television, film, magazines and music limit the potential for women to be seen for their competency and skills. Women are instead judged on the expectations of being an object for men that is set by the media. This limiting effect of the hyper-sexualization of women I think can be addressed by the model provided by Linkage, but it will take more than that due to the ingrained nature of the idea that “sex sells.” With the continued support of the hyper-sexualization and objectification of women by the public, the industries in media continue the trend as it makes money.

    I think that it is important to bring awareness to the issue, but there needs to be a more concerted effort to change the ideas of what we see as acceptable. In addition, there needs to be a movement, as Linkage points out, to acknowledge progress, and still demand more. For many movements there is a stop of initiative after initial progress, which prevents the development of real change. If there can be a reversal of the hyper-sexualization of women then they will be able to develop and be seen more as leaders by the public.

  2. I think there are two types of problems women face in the media. The first is the sexual objectification of women, where they are seen as sexual objects only for the pleasure of the male population. The second is the business/political sector of the media, where women are seen as being “bitchy”. I think both these problems are equally prevalent because when combined they affect practically the entire women population. The plan Linkage has created can help women in the business/political sector more so than the sexual objectification side. If women, who have access to a media source, see that powerful women are portrayed in a positive light, they might strive to be more classy and professional rather than strive to be skinny pieces of eye candy, sexually harassed by men. However the first step in changing the media is, as consumers, we shouldn’t encourage the articles and shows that portray women as sexual objects or bitches, by reading or watching them. Media is all about the viewers and consumer. We have the final say and that is the first step to change.

  3. I think a big problem with media is that it is teaching every woman, from girls to older women, what they should be, what they should look like, how they should act, and how others should perceive them. This creates the problem for women as leaders because it is teaching women to be taught to be more, better, and different looking. Not that women can to be anything, like a leader. Linkage provides a formula to promote the image of women as leaders in the media. It is a very specific lens. I can see it benefitting women and bringing change to women as leaders, but it also creates many questions: how does it get started? Does this actually solve anything? You can even apply the course we are in to the method. 1. We have definitely created a case for change. 2. Enlisting stakeholders becomes harder. Once stakeholders are enlisted: What do they do? Who are they? Are they influential? Do they have the potential to communicate the vision? Then moving through the next steps seems difficult. If this method was applied in a specific group I could see goals being met. Will it have such an impact that it changes the way the media portrays women leaders? I want there to be a solution but it often seems that there is never a clear solution to the problem.

  4. I think that the most prevalent problem women are facing when it comes to their representation in media is that most women do not know exactly how they should be represented. It seems like as a woman, I know how I do not want to be represented in the media, but it is harder to know how I actually want women to be viewed. Even if we say that we want women to be represented as strong, courageous, ambitious, and intelligent, there is always the factor of looks that comes into play with the media. Sometimes I wonder if I want the beautiful, strong woman to represent women because that is what I believe women truly are or if it still because of societal views factoring into my thought process. I think that there are such a large diversity of people and women, that the media should display parts of all of the types so that there is something for the public to relate to. The issue with this is that it is harder than it seems and talking about what we want does not necessarily make things happen or cause things to change. I like that the organization listed above talks about working together as teams and bodies of individuals. I also like how they present a list of goals to accomplish in order to make change. Like the wishes for media I stated earlier, these are steps that take time and are difficult to overcome. Having a tangible list of what to work towards will help in encouraging women to take steps in making change though.

  5. The biggest problem that women face today is that there is a certain way a women must look like to fit. In media, a woman must be so tall, so skin, so perfect that a regular person is not able to match this high standard. Fat shaming, and other rude remark make women feel like they aren’t good enough and this is causing eating disorders with many young girls. When they are looking at a magazine and seeing there favorite celebrate with there cellulite circle and a statement saying that she gain a few; how does that make the impressionable teenager feel. This can transfer over when a women is running for a political office, if she doesn’t look the part then must of the time people don’t think that she can do it. Look at all the top female political head, their aren’t to many who would be considered unattractive. On the other side Chris Christie is trying to run for president and does anyone think that he is not good enough be of the way he looks.

  6. I actually thought about this a lot when I was doing research for our group project. When researching how the media portrays her, I found that they simply focuses on her political actions and the things she was doing for her country. This is completely opposite for American female political leaders, who often have their outfits commented on, their family lives commented on, and their “lack of intelligence” commented on. So, for American women, I think the two biggest issues with the media are 1) not focusing on women’s political agendas and instead, focusing on their personal lives or wardrobe, and 2) the over-sexualization of women on tv. I watch movies with male friends all the time, and whenever there is a woman in a bikini, dressed up, or naked, they never hesitate to comment on “how hot she is” and various other comments regarding appearance. For children watching this, especially young girls, it’s basically teaching them that they have to wear revealing clothes, always have their hair and makeup done, and act in a sexual manner. The media needs better female roles as role models for children, and they also need to focus on political leader’s accomplishments and policies rather than their personal lives.

  7. I think the main problem with how women leaders are shown in media is that they are treated as objects who are judged upon what they look at. Media focuses on what women look like not what they say and it hurts the perception of women that other people have. I also think that a problem is that media does not make shows on women who are congresswomen or women leaders. Media puts out shows that show women in bad positions who are fighting over men and that isn’t an accurate representation of all women. I see a lot of value in making a case for change and finding stakeholders and following the steps but I also think we need to branch away from the typical leadership model and look at what women leadership needs. The model by linkage models many other leadership models but women need something more than just old leadership models. We need media campaigns and lobbying and really just coming out full force. I do agree that finding stakeholders is very important though, nothing can be done for women as leaders if there is no one fighting for women to be leaders. I especially think media portrays women to be against each other and we can fix this issue by being each others allies and fighting together.


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