Why Public Life Is Dominated By Men

5 Dec

Over at The Guardian, Kira Cochrane asks “Why is British public life dominated by men?”

In a typical month,78% of newspaper articles are written by men, 72% of Question Time contributors are men and 84% of reporters and guests on Radio 4′s Today show are men. Where are all the women?

This is a topic I’ve explored extensively over the years. Most American pundits are men as well, and it’s not surprising that they compose 97% of OpEds in the Wall Street Journal. A great deal of the disparity is due to a strong hesitancy for many women to express our opinions in the public arena. Yet prominent female voices in our culture matter tremendously because they help to define our place in society.

So what’s going on? Well, if men get cast into the spotlight, you might say that women are examined under the microscope. As an author, blogger, researcher, and former Hill staffer, I regularly observe problems with the status quo across arenas. Rather then help women find their voices, we tend to send those testing the waters of public punditry dashing back out of focus.

As I’ve written before:

In my profession today I work closely with many talented men.  We write on related topics and speak to similar audiences. Yet, I’m regularly reminded that I face many challenges they don’t have to deal with. No one jokingly whispers about their receptivity to sex during conferences just loud enough to overhear. No one questions whether they were hired so the boss could to get some “tail.” These kinds of experiences are common for women in and out of the ivory towers. We rarely complain for fear of being considered troublemakers or worse. We work hard and don’t want special treatment or penalization, so we turn a deaf ear, aware that some will never see past what’s on the surface. We stop speaking up and a negative feedback loop continues to reinforce gender roles over time.

Just consider the political arena: While candidates should never be chosen based on a number of X chromosomes, it would benefit everyone if women became more involved in the decision-making process given we represent about 50% of the population. But watching the way Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton were each cast as stereotypes, ogled, and photo-shopped by the media during their 2008 campaigns, I often wondered to myself why any little girl would dream of being in that position someday?

More here..

3 Responses to “Why Public Life Is Dominated By Men”

  1. Linda December 5, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    Why would any little girl as she matures, learns, expands her horizons and views the sexist turf in too many arenas choose to place herself in there?
    You have done so, and I might add admirably.
    And so others should and will too so that they can contribute their expertise and help change the landscape at the same time.

  2. Linda December 5, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    I just caught a commentary by senior news journalist Andrea Mitchell, and she said, “judge us by how we do our job, not by our gender”. Again, an ongoing issue that also continues in the news industry.

  3. www.Artistondeck.com December 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    I admire your courage! Just know Hilary and Sarah do this so that the next little girl can. They swim against the rip current norms of the political field so that the next generation of women will have oppurtunities one day that they themselves have only dreamed about. It has to be done, the fight must go on. The hardship endured in the political and coporate world of a women is a tribute to just how special a women truly is. As we have seen, with time comes change. Until then, i ask that you continue the fight, continue being strong, and most importantly continue setting an example of how to endure and overcome for little girls all over the world. I have a little princess on the way and she is counting on you. I tip my hat, much love and respect.

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