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July 7, 2020

Why are organizations like the Alliance for Women in Media so important today?

By Vanessa Arredondo, 2019 Emerging Voices Scholarship Recipient

(October, 2019) Women are making significant strides in media and mass communications. More women are directing films, becoming war correspondents and taking on executive roles. But despite an increase of gender diversity in fields where there has historically been none, women are still vastly underrepresented and undistinguished for their accomplishments in news media.

According to the Columbia Journalism Review, only 16 percent of all Pulitzer Prize winners in the 100 years of the award’s existence have been women.

A lack of representation and acknowledgement make it necessary to have organizations such as the Alliance for Women in Media (AWM). Every year, the institution awards its Gracies Leadership Award to women who have made significant impacts and inspirational contributions to the business. The annual Gracies Awards recognize women who are making positive social changes by increasing visibility for women and their narratives in media and entertainment.

The organization, created by women for women, not only celebrates the various accomplishments of women in media, but encourages, supports, educates and trains the next generation who wish to pursue a career in the industry.

Educating and supporting women to pursue a career in media is a fundamental goal for the AWM—and for good reason. According to the Women’s Media Center (WMC), women receive 37 percent of bylines and credits across all news platforms.

A study by the Pew Research Center determined that the percentage of white and male workers in U.S. newsrooms was higher than national workforce rates. The nation’s 135 most widely circulated newspapers have an overwhelmingly male and white editorial staff, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. This is all in spite of the fact that women continue to outnumber men in college and university journalism programs, according to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

A lack of women in news means that many stories, especially those sensitive to gender politics, are reported with a male perspective. Studies show that men receive more bylines for articles about women’s reproductive rights. Additionally, a 2017 Washington Post Op-Ed states that, across all media groups, only 27 percent of the people quoted in a male journalist’s article were women.

Without female reporters, 50 percent of the population are less likely to be given an appropriate platform to speak. Equal representation can be easily achieved by hiring more women in newsrooms. Studies show that women are more likely to include women sources in their reporting. Increasing diversity in the newsroom allows for more well-rounded reporting.

Through organizations such as the AWM, women can network and meet talented, successful and up-and-coming women in the media industry who can guide them on how to start their careers or help them get their foot in the door. AWM allows women to raise each other up, look out for each other and celebrate the amazing things others might have overlooked.

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