Gendered Jobs

Gendered Jobs

An assumption that long dominated feminist media theory was this: if women con-
trolled media production, content would be different and better. This application

of “difference feminism” (which rejects patriarchy’s devaluation of the feminine to

Feminist Media Theory 363
affirm a positive value) predicts that women running broadcasting and film studios
would offer more diverse, creative, and “positive” representations of women.

Likewise, women and men publishers and editors would have different manage-
ment styles and would cultivate a different kind of newsroom environment.5

Further down the journalism food chain, the claim has been that men report hard
news, focus on facts, prefer male sources, and require “objective” detachment.
Conversely, women focus on features and on news that are important to or about
women, highlight consequences, seek out female sources, privilege audience needs,
and have a more contextual ethics. One explanation for this gendered binary was
cultural feminism’s theory that women have natural talents and skills that are either
complementary to or better than men’s. Thus women’s distinctive communication
skills, compassion for others, and empathy rendered them not merely well qualified
for media jobs – especially in public relations – but better suited. Romy Frohlich

(2004) worried that emphasizing women’s inherent approachability and expres-
siveness (which she attributed to childhood socialization) reinforces gender stereo-
types that potentially limit women, confining them to job ghettos. With very few

exceptions, however, this “essentialist” theory, largely rejected by other disciplines,
was invoked to prod media organizations to hire women.

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