Women's History Month
(image courtesy of the National Women’s History Alliance)
In 1980, Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation in recognition of women’s history; the observance was one week long. In 1987, Congress passed a law authorizing the President to designate the month of March as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, every U.S. president has issued an annual proclamation in the month of March. During women’s history month we honor the countless contributions of women to American history.
The theme for 2023 is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” The National Women’s History Alliance selected this theme to “honor women in every community who have devoted their lives and talents to producing art and news, pursuing truth and reflecting society decade after decade.”
The United Nations Foundation says that the representation and equal participation of women in media is “essential.” Why? Because media - including film and television - shape cultural perceptions and attitudes towards gender. If we are to move the needle on gender equality, it is critical for women to participate in the development of these cultural images and narratives.
Roughly half of the global and U.S. populations are women. However, a recent study estimates that only 24% of the people heard, read about, or seen in the news (worldwide) are women. In the U.S., women make up:
- 45% of the local tv news workforce
- 12% of the top 100 radio news personalities
- 32% of guest appearances on the top five cable and Sunday news broadcast shows
With respect to film, U.S. women represent:
- 18% of film directors
- 19% of screenwriters
- 25% of executive producers
- 31% of producers
- 21% of editors
- 7% of cinematographers
Women are well represented (and are actually overrepresented) in publishing. However, they earn significantly less than their male counterparts.
As we contemplate this year’s theme, consider how many stories about women we hear. Consider who tells these stories. Consider which women’s stories are amplified, and which are minimized (e.g. class, race, nationality, religion, etc.). Finally, we can all encourage women and girls to make their voices heard in every arena.