The 18th AMIC annual conference on ‘Media, Democracy and Governance: Emerging Paradigms in a Digital Age’, devoted a special session on the dynamics of gender in media as part of the session titled ‘Media and Gender’. The session saw quite a few women participants present papers on the topic.
The panel was chaired by Professor Ma Mercedes Robles, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines and Board Member, AMIC, who said she was overwhelmed by the research presented by these young women.
Dr Savita Aggarwal, Jagriti Kher and Sakshi Saini from the University of Delhi presented their paper on ‘Communication Strategies for Enhancing Adaptive Capacity of Women to Climate Change’.
Dr Mira K Desai from SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai, spoke about her research on ‘Women, Individual Self and Digital Media: Changes and Challenges’, while Dr Anuradha Bhattacharjee, Dr Shubhra Gaur and Ravishankar Pandey’s research focused on the ‘inclusivity’ of the female audience in business papers. The paper presented by Dr Bhattacharjee was titled ‘How pink are the pink papers?’
Dr Desai began by explaining how data was collected from women residing in residential hostels on their use of digital technology. “We chose to emphasise this because these young girls are on the one hand being sent to women’s universities by their parents, who wish to keep them in a controlled environment; this conventional mode of mobility on the other hand is being broken by new media,” she noted.
Through her research, that she said was both qualitative and quantitative, she said that they had found that the mobile phone was something that these girls had been introduced to by their parents to keep a watch on them. The Internet, on the other hand, was something that they were being exposed to and influenced to use by friends.
Dr Desai also spoke about the complications and experiences of growing up that were being shaped by blind dating and Internet relationships. “My personal conclusion is that these women, who come from extremely controlled environments, are being exposed through the new media, to a lot of freedom. However, given the kind of responses and feedback that we got from them, they are not still equipped to handle this freedom; they have the key to these experiences that the new media offers, without being aware of the consequences,” she added.
Dr Bhattacharjee’s paper was about the female audience being addressed through business papers. Taking on from the point of view that business papers are published on pink newsprint, and that pink is a colour that is conventionally associated with women, her paper threw up questions about what this could mean about the relationship between business news and women’s interests.
She pointed out that 30 per cent of the readership (which is practically an entire one-third) that business papers got was from women. “So, is this loyal readership not being ignored?” she asked.
The issue that Dr Bhattacharjee raised concerned how even when women were spoken about as achievers in business papers, they were being addressed in terms of how well they were managing their homes as well as their jobs; this was not the case with men. “That women are still being addressed as ‘women’ rather than as ‘managers’ means that we still have a long way to go,” she added.
Dr Bhattacharjee further noted, “The problem is that women are not represented enough, yet it shows that a lot of women readers would be interested in women achievers, and in female managers being profiled in business papers. Most business papers still cater to only the male audience.”
AMIC 2009 explores issues concerning media, democracy and governance
Accountability, transparency, ICT, social transformation take centrestage at AMIC 2009