Work/Life Conflict Is About Men, Too, Says Gloria Steinem

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Why are all the stories about juggling work and family focused on women?

That’s what Gloria Steinem wants to know. The celebrated activist and author was in the house today, speaking at an editors’ roundtable about women in the media. She’s a founder–along with Jane Fonda and other boldface names–of the Women’s Media Center, a nonprofit dedicated to growing the number of women journalists as well as the coverage of women in the media.

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Gloria Steinem says she’s “hooked on the stories that don’t get told.” / Photo courtesy of Women’s Media Center

Carol Jenkins, the longtime local New York TV news anchor and current president of WMC, begins by telling us women hold only 3% of “positions of clout” in the media. She speaks of a recent gathering of women producers and bookers at all the top networks, and how elated she was to meet them–until she discovered every single one of them reported to a male boss. One-quarter of op-eds are written by women, she adds.

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Longtime TV anchor Carol Jenkins says women in the media face some of the same issues they faced 30 years ago. / Photo courtesy of Women’s Media Center

“We’re not here to complain but to offer help,” says Steinem. She ticks off the “stories that don’t get told,” the angles that editors missed in recent news: real-life examples of women affected by the recent Supreme Court ruling on abortion. The tendency among police to chalk off killings of women as domestic incidents, as in the case of the Virginia Tech shooter’s first victim. The pervasive, horrifying and ongoing global trade in women and children.

But one story seems to stick in her craw: the media’s take on what she calls the “work/life conflict.” She tells of a recent Today show segment on the topic that failed to depict one dad dealing with the issue. Studies show that men are just as interested in the topic, and that men are more likely to watch those segments if other men are portrayed. “We miss a lot of our audience” with this knee-jerk kind of coverage, she says.

After the meeting, I checked out the WMC web site. Fellow journalists and workplace bloggers: it’s still pretty new, but it’s already a rich resource.

There’s a wire-type service with exclusive interviews, opinions and coverage of news related to women. Under “Resources,” the site lists women columnists with short descriptions of their works and links to their own sites (though the late Molly Ivins, spelled “Ivans,” is somehow still there–and, no, it doesn’t link to heaven). It also lists women- and media-related organizations, media web sites and blogs.

It would be useful if WMC added a searchable database of women experts. Both Steinem and Jenkins chided us gently of their absence in our Rolodexes. An openly accessibly source that includes, say, women entymologists and women historians would be helpful.

Check it out. At the bottom of the home page, you can take the WMC Poll:

Can Hillary Clinton win the General Election?

Yes
No
Don’t know
I agree with Gloria Steinem, this is the wrong question*

* In response to the question, “Do you support Hillary or Obama?” Steinem answers: yes.

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