Cindy Lont Brings Women in Media to the Forefront
Posted: May 3, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
When she asked some of her communication students to name a famous film director, professor Cindy Lont was not too surprised to hear a barrage of male names: Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Ron Howard. One student named Sophia Coppola but then changed his mind, saying, “Oh, wait – you wanted famous.”
For Lont, the predominance of men in prominent media roles is something she hopes to change. Though there are many female film directors working today, they are virtually unknown to the public at large. Women involved in media still aren’t working in high-status positions. Whether it’s film, journalism, radio or television, women have a hard time breaking the glass ceiling.
Lont has been researching women and media for many years in an attempt to encourage women to work in the field, and to highlight the important work women are doing already. With the help of a Fenwick Fellowship from University Libraries and GMU-TV, Lont recently produced “Women and Media,” a DVD that takes a historical look at women’s roles in media and how they have changed – or have not – over the years.
“I’ve been teaching women in media since the 1980s, and I’ve never found a video that had a wide span of information. Most tended to focus on one woman, rather than look at women in media across time,” says Lont.
The video focuses on four areas: the reclaimed history of women who created media; the media portrayal of women; women’s inclusion in the media workforce; and how men’s media perceptions affect what consumers read, see and hear from the media.
Lont says women have been working in the media since precolonial times in the United States. Trends throughout the years, according to the video, show that women took more jobs in the media during wartime, when men were serving in the military. However, it was not uncommon for women to be asked to give up their roles when men returned
Though the idea of a woman giving up her job for a man may seem archaic by today’s standards, the video suggests not much has changed. Though there are more anchorwomen on TV than years ago, the highest and most powerful positions in media are still held predominantly by men.
“Different people ask different questions,” says Lont in the video, suggesting that if more women or minorities held higher positions, then the media content would be different. “It’s great Katie Couric has earned the right to be the first solo woman network news anchor. Let’s hope this direction continues.”
“Women and Media” won a Gracie Award from American Women in Radio and Television for Outstanding Special Program, and Lont will attend a special awards luncheon in New York in June. The video is distributed through First Light video publishing.