Women in journalism: Reading list 9/30/2012

The Gender Report provides a weekly round-up of links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. The links below are to noteworthy articles on topics related to women in journalism and the media during the past week. Articles included in this feature do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gender Report or its writers. View past week’s round-ups here.

Reading List

What Data Can Tell Us About Gender Representation in the News (MediaShift Idea Lab)

Female Editors-in-Chief Make $15,000 Less Than Men (The Atlantic Wire)

Fewer than one in five Today guests or reporters are women (Guardian)

Ruling on journalist [Jineth Bedoya Lima’s] abduction and torture points way for courts (Reporters Without Borders)

Journalist Mona Eltahawy Arrested in New York for Spray Painting Over Pamela Geller’s Racist Subway Poster (Gawker)

Condé Nast appoints its first black editor-in-chief [Keija Minor] (Poynter)

First Female Presidential Moderator Tapped in ’76 (Women’s eNews)

Robin Roberts Coverage: How Much Is Too Much? (Huffington Post Media)

Elisa Munoz: Women in startups and digital journalism (Global Editors Network)

Margaret Sullivan: What I Read (The Atlantic Wire)

Evelyn Rusli leaves ‘Times’ for ‘WSJ’ (Capital New York)

Politico opinion editor Allison Silver jumps to Reuters (JimRomenesko.com)

We encourage readers to submit suggestions of articles to include in future editions of this feature by sending an email to genderreport[at]gmail.com. For links to articles like these throughout the week, follow @GenderReport on Twitter.

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Pay disparity by gender highlighted, disputed

As Equal Pay Day came and went on Tuesday, April 12, several stories exploring the persisting wage gap between men and women took center stage in the weekly news cycle. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, the organization in charge of the awareness day, Tuesday was chosen to represent how far into the work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.

According to the National Bureau for Labor and Statistics, across all occupations combined, women earned 81.2 percent of what men did in 2010. Many news outlets focused on this disparity in specific fields and occupations, where the gap greatly differs, or is in some cases reversed.

The Atlantic chose to focus on the traditionally reported story of fields in which women earn less than men, highlighting finance and insurance as the top disparity, where women in the same positions earn just 62 percent in comparison to their male colleagues. Gaps also persisted in health care, utilities, public administration, and both wholesale and resale trade industries.

Several publications focused on more localized data: The Sun-Sentinel reported that in Florida, women were found to earn $7,013 less than men annually. An even larger gap reported by the Boston Globe showed Massachussets women working under a $11,800 pay gap.  The National Partnership for Women and Families, the advocacy group providing the research for both these reports, maintains a state-by-state guide to several data points on this topic.

The long-standing critique of the wage gap is the Mommy Card: women leave the workforce to raise children before reaching higher-level management positions that bring with them the higher salaries. The Christian Science Monitor also noted that in 2009, Women held 36.5 percent of all managerial positions, up from 34 percent in 2000. In addition, only three percent of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in 2009 were women, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology. The Washington Post offered a counter to this argument, pointing to a study from Columbia University that showed women take a 4 percent wage hit with their first child, while men gain 9 percent in their salaries. The wage gap also persists in the same positions at the same level of management, and men still earn more even in traditionally female-dominated fields such as nursing.

The recent rise in unemployment is also used as an excuse for these disparities, since men have been hit harder by the recession in fields such as construction. Newsweek even went as far as to ask if “manhood” could survive the recession, referring to the group who used to drive BMW’s as “beached white males.” And while the overall unemployment rate is 1 percent higher for men than women over the age of 16, single women were still hit the hardest by the rise in unemployment. In March 2011 the male unemployment rate was 9.3 percent whereas single women who maintain families had an unemployment rate of 12.3 percent, compared to 8.3 percent for women as a whole.

Some opinions still hold, however, that the wage gap is mostly about manipulation of data and doesn’t offer a true comparison worth exploring. A columnist for the Wall Street Journal said Tuesday should be seen as a day  “dedicated to manufactured feminist grievances,” rather than as a true “battle of the sexes.”

Other opinions supported the data. The Houston Chronicle and Detroit Free Press both urged readers to become more active in the fight for pay equity.

At the policy level, the pending class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart for gender discrimination could be the largest case of its kind in U.S. history. The New York Times editorial page noted that ” If the court rejects this suit, it will send a chilling message that some companies are too big to be held accountable.”

Additional resources and data:

This is the Gender Report’s Week in Review, a weekly post that highlights some of the major stories related to gender issues this week. Some of these stories may have already appeared in our News Feed or in the week’s Gender Checks. We’ll at times include a longer analysis of stories as well as bring attention to stories that may have slipped through the cracks of the week’s news cycle.

White House study shows persisting gap in wages, despite education advancement

In the first comprehensive government study of its kind since 1963, President Obama released Women in America this week, examining the “social and economic well-being” of women in the United States.

The New York Times synthesized that across all education levels, women are still earning just 75 percent of men’s wages in comparable positions. NBC Nightly News focused on the study’s findings that more women than men earn college degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Supporting the White House’s concession that the study didn’t necessarily reveal new information, several stories have been published in recent years highlighting this wage gap across professions. Time magazine tackled the topic in a 1982 cover titled “How Long ‘Till Equality?” In 1999, MIT released data that showed female faculty at the science-focused university suffered not only pay disparities, but also less access to awards, resources and opportunities for professional accomplishments. In 2010, Newsweek published a feature about the $66,000 pay gap for female lawyers.

The original study, compiled by Eleanor Roosevelt as a result of President Kennedy’s Commission On the Status of Women, reported disparaging data that eventually led to the Equal Pay Act of 1963.  One of Obama’s first actions in office was to create the Council on Women and Girls, an agency with the goal of ensuring other government agencies “take into account the needs of women and girls in the policies they draft, the programs they create, the legislation they support.”

The study was broken up into sections tackling families and income, education, employment, health, and crime and violence.

Some highlights of the study:

  • The median age for a college educated woman to marry is 30 years old.
  • Female students are more likely to experience electronic bullying than male students.
  • Women continue to outlive men, but their five-year advantage is narrowing the gap that used to exist between male and female longevity.
  • Less women than men have lost their jobs in the recent economic recession (see USA Today’s analysis of the business sector).
  • White women actually experience the largest pay gap of any racial group; Asian women earn 82 percent as Asian men, and African American and Latina women earn 94 and 90 percent of the wage of men in their same racial group, respectively.
  • Rates of women suffering from violent crimes are decreasing.
  • The cesarean rate rose from 21 percent in 1996 to 32 percent in 2008, the highest rate ever reported in the United States.

The full study (which is actually quite readable and user-friendly) can be found here: Women_in_America.

A look at sex

Another study released this week examined a more targeted aspect of women’s participation in society: sexual activity. The National Survey of Family Growth, compiled by the CDC, concluded that abstinence from sexual activity in both women and men aged 15 to 24 has increased by almost 7 percent from the last survey in 2002. However, in the 25-to-44 age group,  98 percent of females and 97 percent of males report having had vaginal intercourse, with about 90 percent having oral sex as well.

Other data noted a significant decrease in teenage pregnancy rates (almost 40 percent), which some have attributed to both increased condom use and delayed sexual activity. The survey also revealed women are more likely to have a same-sex encounter and less likely to have more than 15 sexual partners in their lifetime (male or female).

This is the Gender Report’s Week in Review, a weekly post that highlights some of the major stories related to gender issues this week. Some of these stories may have already appeared in our News Feed or in the week’s Gender Checks. We’ll at times include a longer analysis of stories as well as bring attention to stories that may have slipped through the cracks of the week’s news cycle.