I am constantly in awe of the women I meet.
My freshman year of college, I went to D.C. and met some brilliant women. I met girls who were integral parts of successful charities, who had held numerous internships, who served as RAs and TAs, who could speak several languages, who effectively juggled both class and numerous clubs and who had mastered winged eyeliner. Many of these women have influenced my life in wonderful ways, in particular helping to steer me onto the path of communications.
In my first semester, I joined my school’s chapter of an online collegiate women’s magazine and fell in love with my weekly obligation to write an article, publish it and share it on social media. I loved our weekly meetings which were fun and close-knit. And I loved the girls I met. It was ultimately the women that I met there that lead me to change my major from Political Science to Public Relations and Strategic Communications after seeing their impressive resumes and realizing I wanted to hold the same internships and work at the same places — at successful women’s magazines, news outlets and websites.
Throughout the year, I immersed myself in the world of communications, later holding a communications internship at a non-profit and actively taking part in writing online. I even headed my residence hall’s newsletter. And I loved it. It was exciting and fun and challenging. I had to step up my grammar game (never a strong suit for me), learn how to effectively use social media, and how to make someone read my content. However, I also learned what it meant to be a women in communications.
While we are constantly making progress on promoting women in various fields, there’s still room for improvement. Check out these statistics:
- According to The Women’s Media Center, men receive 63% of byline credits in print, Internet and wire news.
- The same report found that sports journalists are about 90% male and 90% white.
- According to Time.com, drawing from the Women’s Media Center, “the gender breakdown of almost all the Sunday political talk shows hovers around 75% male, 25% female.” They also reported that “there are four times as many male columnists as female columnists at the three biggest newspapers and four newspaper syndicates.”
- Meanwhile, Jezebel.com reported in 2013 that 29.8% of filmmakers were women and while women are more likely to be producers, as money becomes a larger factor, they are often downgraded to associate producers.
- According to Women Make Movies, “in 2012, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.”
- VIDA: Women in Literary Arts published promising results in their 2014 report on women being represented on book review lists: for example, The New York Times Book Review went from 38% of women comprising the reviewed in 2010 to 47% in 2014, but there’s still room to grow on many other lists.
Even at my own university, at an event to honor women of various majors, one senior spoke of the difficulty of being one of the only women in the school’s television club and having her voice heard initially.
It wasn’t until I watched the 2011 documentary Miss Representation that I came to understand why women in communications are important. Our news media, television shows, movies and advertisements are not kind to women. The documentary showed how we pick apart the appearance of our female politicians, judge the weight and hair of our female actresses, all while paying them less and giving them less dynamic and speaking roles. It showed how our advertisements really adhere to the mantra “sex sells.” It was both brutally honest and horrifying and it got me thinking: how can we change this?
That’s when I began to research and found the above statistics. Our media is overwhelmingly male-dominated. If we wanted to change the narrative surrounding women, wouldn’t it make sense to have more women actively taking part in shaping that narrative? And it does. For example, Jezebel.com reported, in the same article mentioned above, that “women support women” and “films directed by women feature more women in all roles.” There is a 21% increase in women working on a narrative film when there is a female director and a 24% of women working on documentaries.”
That’s when I texted my friend Trisha, a film studies major at Mount Holyoke College, who’s an editor of her school’s literary magazine and has always held a passion for writing. Together, we devised the idea of VocaLady—a magazine to empower women in communications.
Our goal for VocaLady is to help women pursuing careers in communications succeed. We plan to showcase success and failure stories, to write tips, to review movies, books and films created by women or where women play a significant role, and to support one another. In the words of Patricia Kelly, “being an artist means pulling up the whole community by supporting other artists.”
So, welcome to VocaLady magazine. Look around! Apply to join our team! And above all, create!
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