Megan Kamerick’s TED Talk on Women in Media

This is a guest post by CYH volunteer, Elaiza Datar.

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Megan Kamerick, senior reporter at New Mexico Business Weekly and former president of the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS), recently presented a TED Talk on women’s representation in media.

According to the Global Media Monitoring Project 2012, only 24% of women are news subjects even though we make up half the population and in addition to this, only 20% of experts quoted in stories are women. Even in stories of gender based violence, men receive an overwhelming majority of print space and airtime. These stories tend to blame the victim and lack context which points to the gender disparity in the media industry itself. The lack of women in the newsroom and female media leaders affects the kind of information delivered to the public.

More women in the newsroom and leadership positions would affect agenda setting; it would alter what stories are chosen and where they are placed. Even as political representatives or corporate executives, women’s presence is lacking and when women aren’t there, they are not noticed.

For example, women are more likely to challenge stereotypes, as Kamerick points out. Also, in some situations it is more advantageous to have women journalists cover stories; say for instance in places like Afghanistan or Iraq. There are biological differences between sexes in addition to cultural differences and it is impossible that these differences will not manifest in journalism. In a perfect world there would be one female and male reporter for every story, which would be edited by one female and male editor but obviously this is situation is not viable. Regardless, journalism must strive for a balanced viewpoint.

4th Estate, a company that monitors media sources for government agencies and companies, concludes that, “The gender gap undermines the media’s credibility.” The public only hears half the story and this is a major problem when media is expected to deliver the truth of a story.

Kamerick suggests one way to get more women into leadership positions is through mentorship. This brought to mind the Check Your Head Youth and Gender Media Project’s mentorship program wherein workshop facilitators are matched with important female leaders in our community. My mentor is Kate Gibson, Executive Director of the WISH Drop-in Centre Society in downtown Vancouver. After meeting with Kate and going on to become a regular volunteer with WISH, I have gained an immense amount of knowledge on overcoming barriers and it has taught me how I can reach out to marginalized members of our community. Mentorship is not something to be underestimated, and is a valuable tool for advancing oneself, and in turn, society as a whole.

Kamerick ends her talk with a video that narrates: ‘an event seen from one point of view gives one impression, seen from another point of view it gives quite a different impression, but its only when you get the full picture can you fully understand what’s going on.’

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Elaiza hails from the tropical islands of the Philippines. Since completing her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science this year, she has been volunteering for local organizations, gardening organic herbs and vegetables, cooking nutritious vegetarian dishes, traveling to fascinating lands, rock-climbing vertical wonders, reading a plethora of books, and more or less living each day in pursuit of passion!

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