Monday, October 27, 2014

What We've Been Reading - 10/27

 "Are Women Better Decision Makers?"
This opinion piece in the New York Times explores the findings of neuroscientists who study decision-making abilities in men and women. Though men and women make decisions similarly under manageable circumstances, when stress levels increase, women took less risks than men and looked instead for “smaller, surer successes.” Companies that have at least one woman on their boards also do much better than companies who only have males. More importantly, women have an easier time empathizing with their adversaries than men in stressful situations, which might mean that if we want to see the end of political deadlocks in Congress, it would be in everyone’s best interest to put more women in office.  

"Please Put That Can of Soup Down and Put Your Bra Back On"
Breast cancer survivor Leisha Davison-Yasol challenges some of the practices that have come out of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in her article in the Huffington Post. She begins the article by suggesting that perhaps it isn't the best idea to support women with breast cancer with "National No Bra Day," a day she says only reminds her of what she's lost in her battle against cancer. She goes on to talk about how America has commercialized breast cancer and it's has "gotten out of hand." During this month in particular, many companies sell products with pink ribbons on them or special pink labels. However, this article points out that most of these companies don't actually donate any money towards breast cancer, and their pink product labels are used for marketing. None of this means that this month isn't doing great things. Awareness really has increased and there is no longer a taboo around breast cancer. If we want to do more though, we should make sure we buy from companies who really are donating to the cause or we should check out her list of recommended organizations to donate to. 

"Where Are all the older women in news and current affairs?"
Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at Channel 4 (the UK), started to realize that the number of women in news and currentaffairs has dramatically decreased. She says there were lots of other women when she started out in television. She also points out how it seems that both men and women start in step but then the disparity is increasing and the gap between them is widening as they approach retirement age. To buttress her argument, she mentions Women in Journalism where she herself conducted a piece of research “that found how much men dominated the front pages as well as expert opinion.” Also, according to her article, women make up 47.5% of the entire news and current affairs division and fill 37.3% of leadership positions in network news. Moreover, numerous studies showed that when news and current affairs producers seek to get an expert to speak they are far more inclined to find a man to do so (men made 84% of all those quotes as experts).

It is important that women continue to be present in news and current affairs if we are to have a sincere and full reflection of our society. Training programs such as Expert Women that was set up in response to the lack of women is beneficial but not enough. Maybe it is time for Ofcom, the independent and competition authority for the UK communications industries, to become involve and to help states other than UK to overcome impediments such as lack of women in news and current affairs. It is not only the UK; the problem is, unfortunately, universal.