Literature Analysis Of Women In The Media In Developing Countries
Research on women and the media became an area of concern to UNESCO in the early 1980s. The organization sponsored regional seminars on women and media decision-making between 1980 and 1985, which drew together women journalists and high ranking media personnel.
The seminars were aimed at sensitizing media leaders to the social implications of the neglect of women, both as audience members and as media personnel, and were held in Europe, America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, and Africa. The research studies which were also carried out focused mainly on questions of portrayal rather than the participation of women in the media. In both aspects – portrayal, and participation – most studies have also concentrated on developed countries.
In the case of portrayal of women in the media, Margaret Gallagher, a key researcher in the field of communications and women, notes: “Overall, media treatment of women can best be described as narrow characterized as essentially dependent and romantic, women are rarely portrayed as rational, active or decisive.
In Asian mass media, women are portrayed in traditional roles as housekeepers or mothers. In Malaysia, women have been depicted as “vain and seductive, as sex commodities, dull-witted, in constant need of approval (almost always by men) and ultimately best left in the home or kitchen”. Women are depicted in constant competition to allure men. A similar situation exists in the Indian mass media where the women are seldom shown as understanding or supportive of each other.
The media portray women as being each other’s persecutors and show men enjoying strong relations among themselves. African mass media depict subservience among women as desirable and vital in maintaining society’s morality. Few studies have actually focused on women journalists in developing countries.
The studies that do exist reflect the fact that the world of work is a male-dominated world and highlights the severe underrepresentation of women on all levels in media organizations except for the very lowest (i.e. clerical and secretarial). Studies on women and the media in Egypt, India, Nigeria, and Ecuador, and by the Ethiopian-based African Training and Research Centre for Women show similar patterns with respect to participation rates, recruitment, promotion and the allocation of assignments. Although these countries have different media institutional forms, Gallagher argues, “women are very much a minority presence in what several of the studies explicitly describe as the ‘man’s world’ of the media”.