Gender bias in the media |

Gender bias in the media

Deb Luginbuhl
Vail, CO Colorado

Women comprise 7 percent of directors and 13 percent of film writers of the top 250 grossing films.

Women hold only 3 percent of clout positions in the mainstream media (telecommunications, entertainment, publishing and advertising).

These statistics are sobering to me. I spent over twenty years in television sports production, working for NBC Sports, ABC Sports and ESPN, among other networks. I was one of the lucky, young women of the early 1980s – my dream was to produce live sports on television, and I was able to reach my goal. But, it wasn’t an easy career choice as one of few women in television production.

Read about the creation of a popular sports cable network in, “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, and you’ll see what I mean. Women were not always welcome in the locker rooms, the television control rooms, the sidelines, the remote production trucks or the auto racing pits, which is where I spent most of my time as a producer of open wheel Indy Car auto racing.

I was a proud member of the media for many years, but know firsthand how it plays an important role in shaping the perception of women and girls in America and contributes to the under representation of women in positions of power and influence in this country.

Gender bias in the media will be the subject of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado Vail Valley luncheon on Aug. 3, at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort in Vail.

Presented by Amanda Precourt and Girl PowHER, “A Place at the Table: Gender Bias in the Media (You Can’t Be What You Can’t See!),” will feature keynote speaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, filmmaker and advocate. Newsom wrote and directed “MissRepresentation,” a film that exposes how American youth are being sold the concept that women and girls’ value lies in their youth, beauty and sexuality.

“I’m a firm believer in ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,'” said Newsom, arguing that more balanced public images of women would teach young girls that they can aspire to positions of power. “I started to question what the media was communicating to young people. I couldn’t imagine having a daughter in a culture that demeaned, objectified and sexualized women.”

The net proceeds from this event will support the Vail Valley region with grants to nonprofit organizations in Eagle County as well as supporting the foundation’s annual campaign benefiting Colorado’s women and girls through the statewide work of the foundation.

As Diana Nyad, former commentator for ABC Sports and FOX Sports News, said in her introduction to a recently published report on gender in televised sports (University of Southern California CFR, 2010), “there has been a gender revolution in American sports in recent decades. Millions of girls play sports every day. Tens of thousands of women compete in college and professional athletics. Women’s athletic skill levels have risen astronomically over the past twenty years in sports from basketball to volleyball, from swimming to soccer. It is time for television news and highlights shows to keep pace with this revolution.”

Women and girls comprise a majority of our population. It is time for women to be represented in the television production trucks and on-air.

Deb Luginbuhl was awarded nine Sports Emmys for live sports production while working more than 20 years in live television sports, primarily producing auto racing for ABC Sports and ESPN. She has been a member of the Directors Guild of America since 1988. She currently serves on The Women’s Foundation of Colorado Vail Valley Committee, the statewide Women’s Foundation of Colorado Community Investment and Initiatives Committee and is a Foundation PEP Club member.

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