Gender in the Newsroom

Authored by: Linda Steiner

The Handbook of Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  November  2008
Online publication date:  January  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805863420
eBook ISBN: 9780203877685
Adobe ISBN: 9781135592011


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Without necessarily using the precise language of “gender,” discussions of “gender in the news-room” date to the late nineteenth century, when, to support themselves and their families, women began entering UK and US newsrooms in great numbers. A worried UK woman’s magazine reader responded, “Our girls will rush into journalism, teaching or the stage, three professions already overstocked, and neglect really useful branches of employment, by which they might earn a steady, if not luxurious livelihood” (in Onslow, 2000, pp. 15–16). Enraged by women’s invasion, men said newswork would defeminize and even desex women. These continued assertions, muted only during world wars, had little to do with beliefs about women’s inherent inability to report. Instead, such claims betrayed the marginality of women readers and men’s interest in preserving a monopoly on high status work. In any case, these diatribes indicate that women were managing to compete in this masculine space. Women continued to demand newsroom jobs, despite their oft-expressed complaint that male editors, colleagues and sources refused to take them seriously and relegated them to the women’s angle.

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