A Public Talk and Panel Discussion
Date: Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Time: 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Location: OISE Auditorium, G162
Women constitute 60% of university graduates, 52% of the population and just over 50% of the paid workforce. But even in 2011, women’s perspectives account for less than 20% of the columns and guest commentaries in Canada’s largest daily newspapers. Why is this, and what are the consequences to women’s capacity to influence the public discourse, and policy and spending priorities? This talk and panel discussion will review the status of women in the news and seek ways to bridge the current gender gap.
Our panel of special guests will include Shari Grayson, an award-winning author, journalist and consultant; Kathy English, The Toronto Star’s Public Editor, the paper’s reader advocate and guarantor of accuracy and Esme Fuller-Thomson, cross-appointed Professor in the Faculties of Social Work, Medicine and Nursing at the University of Toronto. The discussion will be moderated by Laurie Stephens, Director, News and Media Relations, University of Toronto.
A group of York University women, including several profs from Osgoode, recently did an Informed Opinions workshop with Shari Graydon. Since that workshop, two participants had op-eds published online in the Globe, Dayna Scott and Stephanie Ben-Ishai. Plus Osgoode’s Lisa Philipps, currently AVP Research at York.
One thing many of us did want to explore more is the downside or the critical approach to these efforts. How is scholarship transformed for the move to media outlets? What impact do these efforts and the push to get into media have on scholarly plans, and trajectories? What kinds of work by women get published? What is the milieu in which they are published, and (how) does that affect the way they are received? How do they appear in these places? [Briefly let me point to U of T Poli. Sci Prof. Sylvia Bashevkin’s op ed in the Globe here, entitled NDP’s female contenders must offer substance, not just style. Bashevkin’s piece was referring to leadership style, but the headline seems to court the implication that it is about fashion and appearance – and the comments certainly take that up. It’s a bit dispiriting if you were perked up by the site of a female by line on the op ed page.]
I have no doubt at all that the basic problem is a real one – Mainstream Media (not to mention other media) lacks substantial amounts of expert female voices. Nor do I doubt that research needs to be disseminated, and to be as widely understood as possible, and to have some impact on policy or behavior or future scholarship as part of making it meaningful. But I’d like to talk more about, e.g., a question like this one: “If I have a really good, feminist, progressive piece of research and policy advice, should I put it in a form that makes it acceptable and likely to be published by the Globe? Or should I write to Rabble.ca about putting it there? What is the downside of being in the MSM?”