Communications and Media conversation at Vision 2020 – V2020CM

We’re running a bit late. Everyone is actively engaged in small group discussions and don’t want to stop, but slowly delegates and guests are moving into their seats for the conversation on women, communications and media.


  1. Jehmu Greene – Past President of the Women’s Media Center and frequent commentator of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC
  2. Linda Greenhouse – Knight Distinguished Journalist-in-residence and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. She worked for 40 years at New York Times. Received awards including Pulitzer Prize.
  3. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Ph.D. – Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and the Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania

Our moderators are Amanda Bennett from Bloomberg News and Theresa Nance, Ph.D., assistant Vice President for Multicultural Affairs.

Moderator  to Jamieson – What’s your sense of where the women’s movement is?

Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin broke a trend, it doesn’t matter what you think of them. It’s a plus, a gain for women. We’re moving forward.

Moderator to Greenhouse – What’s been the role of legal action in your career?

There were few women when I started in the newsroom over 40 years ago. Then (year not specified) there was a gender discrimination lawsuit that’s now famous, which paved the way for me and other women. Without that I don’t think I’d be where I am today.

Moderator to Greene – How can we increase the visibility of gender equality?

We need more appreciation of the role of younger women – too often we hear that young women aren’t interested in women’s issues, that they think feminism is dead and it’s not true. We also need to make sure to increase the numbers of women leaders but also increase their visibility and support them.

Question – How do you see the way Hillary Clinton was treated in the media during the Presidential campaign and how the media reports on women candidates in general?

Greenhouse – The attire of female candidates is mentioned 4 times more frequently than it is for men and no one comments, for example, on men’s shoes. We have to stop defining women by the way they look.

We’ve hit a wave of sexism in media that we’ve not seen before. Long articles about Hillary’s hair, about the female candidate’s shoes, leg shots – this is unacceptable. When we attack one woman we attack all women. It’s not just men writing these type of articles, women in media have attacked women, particularly with politics that are different from their own.

Jamieson – There was the same behavior in 2007 when a lot was written about Hillary’s “cackle” but nothing about Giuliani’s laugh when circumstances were the same. And this was by New York Times.

Comment from the former Mayor of Salt Lake City who ran against 5 men and won. On negative side of what the media can do, she had two media men relentlessly take her on to see if she was tough enough to be mayor. And she was – she eventually wore them down. On the positive side, a group she’s in now have used the media successfully in helping to get women ski jumping into the Olympics. They gave the media the story of a doctor who said it wasn’t healthy for women to ski jump because their uterus might fall out. It went viral, so to speak, and brought much needed attention to their cause.

Jamieson – Having more women in communication and media doesn’t ensure that stereotyping of women will end. The bigger question is how do we transform underlying issues in our culture about gender. Worried about assumption that if we just get women in leadership then things will be better. Some of the most offensive articles to Hillary during the campaign were written by women.

Role models on TV shows:

Greene – The more TV girls watch the less options girls think they have. The Spark Summit is challenging the sexualization of girls/women in the media. Take every opportunity you have to organize and fight back about what’s going on. For example, you could organize around the GQ issue which highly sexualized posed photographs of the two female stars of Glee – a show we thought was going to be a role models for kids.

How can we get more women on OpEd pages?

Greenhouse – Part of problem is that women don’t write enough. There are campaigns to increase the number of women and number of pieces that are written and submitted.

Jamieson – we need to support Kristof and others in OpEd pages who write about women’s issues. Let the NYT and other newspapers know when you like what they do.

Greenhouse – Most of legal discussions on-line are contributed by males. Women in law need to write more and be encouraged to write more.

Moderator – When did you switch from needing a mentor to being a mentor?

Greenhouse – When I realized no one in my chain of command was interested in my well-being or growth I became to help others both men and women.

Greene – I’ve been mentoring people younger than I since I was in high school and now mentor all ages. I’ve never had a female mentor. I think part of it is there is only one pie and the power dynamic and competition stops some women and others from mentoring.

Jamieson – Modeling matters. We all need to model issues. I was pregnant when interviewed for a job but never mentioned it. I was hired but then let go for being pregnant. Two years later I was hired by the same place when pregnant again because the school had been sued in the intervening years for sex discrimination.

Greenhouse – Social media and 24/7 news cycles have strong potential for both good and harm. The clip of Shirley Sherrod is an example of the harm but I also don’t know what I’d do without the ease of research I can do on-line

Greene -Lack of accountability of 24/7 news cycle is terrible. But there are opportunities for women; it’s aligned with how we communicate. There’s blog talk radio, Facebook, Twitter. Contribute to Wikipedia. We need to embrace the opportunities.

Jamieson – On on-line sites, too often, when women make comments, males shut down the conversation by calling them bitch and worse. I suggested to a reporter to check this out and see if the young men were willing to be accountable. So a reporter did and found one of the boys. The boy said “How did your find me?” Reporter – “Well you gave your 1st name, your school and your picture.” Boy- ” Well it was all a joke, you’re not going to id me by name are you? It will hurt my chances for school.”

Comment from a woman who received the highest Girl Scout award and then was also recognized nationally by the Girl Scouts only got 1 line in her newspaper. How can that sort of thing get changed? Jamieson – Get people together and take out an ad that says “We want to tell the newspaper and the readers that we’re proud of so and so’s accomplishment.” <applause>

Moderator: To the panelists please give a single action point for the Vision 2020 delegates

Jamieson – Be vigilant to check out sexism and ageism in the media. They are linked. Even watch it for yourself, it can be subtle

Greenhouse – In the new media environment – it’s an opportunity to use it, exploit it to our benefit and creativity. Bring in young women to work with it and the issues.

Greene – Create your own media, create campaigns on FB, whatever platform you’re on. Tout yourself as experts, men do it easily, we need to do it better. Take advantage of organizing moments. Applauding and appreciating the younger generation for their contributions otherwise we won’t be able to grow this movement.

real-time blogger-Cherry Woodburn


About equalityinsight

Vision 2020 is a national coalition of organizations and individuals united in their commitment to achieve women’s economic and social equality. Join Vision 2020 today!
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