By Gwyneth Donald, JAWS Board Member
One of the assignments I often give my journalism students at the University of New Mexico is to write a resume and a cover letter. I admit it’s an easy assignment for the end of term when both students and professors are swamped with work. But it’s a practical exercise for them that also shines a distant twinkling light on the inequalities we see among journalists in newsrooms across the country, where management and the higher end of the pay scale are still dominated by men.
These classes are small, so I like to have the students read their cover letters aloud. It only takes a few for a pattern to emerge. Some are humble, but many of the young men in my classes boast of their awesome interviewing, their brave investigative skills and their powerful writing. It’s a painful contrast to many of the young women’s letters, which modestly describe their skills and ask so, so politely for a chance.
By Mary C. Curtis
This has been the year of Sheryl Sandberg and “leaning in,” and, of course, the Journalism & Women Symposium would be in the middle of this timely debate. It’s part of our JAWS mission, after all. And it’s not as though we haven’t been posing similar questions for quite a while.
As I asked in a column in The Washington Post, “Is the manifesto about women not doing enough or trying to do too much? Will busy working women be able to spare the time to see its lessons as valuable rather than additions to already crowded to-do lists? If women feel guilty about shortchanging home or work, is that really Sandberg’s fault?”
By Peg Simpson, JAWS Board Member
I met Mary Thom in 1988 when I opened a Washington bureau for MS Magazine and its new owners, Australians Anne Summers and Sandra Yates.
Mary had stayed on from the original MS startup editing team and she scared me to death. She was a larger than life presence.
I had not even free-lanced for MS and here I was, working with one of the women present at the creation.
By Sandra Fish, JAWS Board Member
Next to JAWS CAMP, my favorite conference is NICAR, Investigative Reporters & Editors’ annual National Institute on Computer Assisted Reporting’s geeky weekend.
One of the highlights this year was Saturday’s night’s “Women in CAR” dinner, where 40 women got together at a Louisville, Ky., restaurant. Former JAWS board member Jennifer LaFleur of ProPublica helped put the dinner together and recalled one year when fewer than 10 women attended a similar NICAR dinner. That so many of us got together this year is a great sign that women journalists are getting more involved in technology.
By Lisen Stromberg, JAWS Board Member
I graduated from college as President Ronald Reagan was successfully convincing the country “trickle-down economics” would benefit everyone. Michael Douglas was busy telling the world, “Greed is Good,” Donald Trump was explaining to us the art of the deal, and Ivan Boesky was laughing at us from the cover of Time. The runaway train of deregulation was just beginning to hit the tracks and unfettered capitalism was the driver of the day. Underneath it all was the collective belief that our individual effort, skill, and talent would propel each of us forward. The cult of American Individualism insinuated if you weren’t rich, well that was your fault and no one else’s.
Well, it’s been 25 years and now we are living with the consequences of that entrenched belief system. For many of us, the living ain’t easy.