Creating Effective Leadership for the 21st Century:
Popular Culture and Positive Role Models for Women and Girls
Popular Culture and Positive Role Models for Women and Girls
Congratulations to Our U.S. Bank Prize Finalists
- Sarah Frank of Loyola University in Chicago, Ill.
- Kathryn Graves of Brown University in Providence, R.I.
- Kristabel Stark of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif.
- Kimm Topping of Lesley College in Cambridge, Mass.
- Abby Wood of Michigan State University in Lansing, Mich.
Congratulations to Our Discover Prize Finalists
- Adrienne Brown of Northland College in Ashland, Wis.
- Kendal Conrad of Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa.
- Orrin Luc of New York University in New York, N.Y.
- Tyanna Slobe of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.
- Danielle Suh of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
About the Scholarship
Womenetics, U.S. Bank and Discover® will award a grand total of $22,000 in scholarships to ten undergraduates this fall.
Womenetics recognizes the power of young people. The Advancing Aspirations Global Scholarships (AAGS) are designed to connect students who are interested in the global advancement of women with thought leaders in vital, impactful roles and to provide means for further study. We believe students are the future leaders of women’s empowerment worldwide.
To be eligible, an individual must be enrolled as an undergraduate student in an accredited college or university, and be a U.S. citizen or legal resident of the United States. Students who have already obtained a bachelor’s degree are not eligible. Students are invited to enter both the U.S. Bank and Discover Prizes; however, if selected for one prize, the student is automatically ineligible for the other. Students are not required to attend the conferences in Atlanta or Chicago in order to win.
Scholarship Details and Requirements
U.S. Bank and Discover have partnered with Womenetics to encourage future leaders to learn about these topics. We invite college students to discuss one of the following questions in an essay of 2,500 words or less, for the opportunity to win one of ten prizes. Please provide a 'works cited' page to document any research referenced in your essay. In addition, a separate 200-word essay on what you will do with the prize money should you win is required. The prize money is intended to finance education, travel or other opportunities that may lead to further understanding of these important global issues.
1st Prize: Two first place winners (one for the U.S. Bank Prize and one for the Discover Prize) will win $5,000 and an expense-paid trip to attend and be recognized at the respective Womenetics’ Global Women’s Initiative conference. In addition, the winner is invited to attend a VIP Reception with featured speakers and other top business, academic, nonprofit and policy leaders the evening before the event.
2nd Prize: Eight additional essayists (four for the U.S. Bank Prize and four for the Discover Prize) will win $1,500 and recognition at the Womenetics Global Women’s Initiative, as well as an invitation to the VIP Reception with featured speakers and other top business, academic, nonprofit and policy leaders the evening before the event. The four finalists for each conference are invited to attend, but are responsible for their own travel costs.
Advancing Aspirations Global Scholarships
99 West Paces Ferry Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30305
99 West Paces Ferry Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30305
All finalists will be notified via email on September 4, 2012. Respective finalists will be introduced and the winner will be announced at the Global Women’s Initiative conference on October 4 in Atlanta or on November 1 in Chicago.
About the Global Women’s Initiative Conference
On October 4, 2012 in Atlanta and on November 1, 2012 in Chicago, Womenetics will present Creating Effective Leadership for the 21st Century: Popular Culture and Positive Role Models for Women and Girls, a half day conference examining the business impact of prevailing characterizations about women’s value and the influence this has on women’s ability to lead and contribute.
Females are underrepresented in leadership across most sectors of business and society despite being 50 percent of the population. While many factors influence women’s ability to lead around the world - education, personal freedoms, role models, individual empowerment and determination - changing cultural perceptions and portrayals of female worth is a critical step to help bolster the number of women who choose to lead. Gender stereotypes about women’s roles are pervasive in 21st century global popular culture and 24/7 media. Typically females are poorly represented both in the number of women decision-makers in business as well as in the types of female characters and images of women and girls portrayed in film, television, current popular music and print media.
Numerous studies prove that fresh thinking happens when women play a meaningful part in creating solutions and leading efforts. Most importantly, results are better, outcomes are greater and business and communities show more significant and long-lasting improvement. Attendees will hear about solutions to enhance the ability to produce business success in today’s global economy and create an environment that taps all available talent and efforts of women and men everywhere.
2012 Scholarship Questions: U.S. Bank Prize
Nowhere are stereotypes of women and men more pervasive than in our 21st century world of instant popular culture and 24/7 media. Across all platforms of media, entertainment, music, advertising and technology, today’s popular culture is a constant source of underlying messages that foster attitudes about men’s and women’s roles and that shape cultural values about gender. When films and television do depict female characters, they often reflect gender stereotypes. Females are underrepresented and frequently typecast and mischaracterized in film and television. Women in films, particularly young women, are far more likely than men to be hypersexualized. This is particularly important given that 0- to 6-year olds spend almost two hours per day with screen media and 8- to 18-year olds spend over six hours daily with the same medium. One of the largest studies assessing characters in 400 top-grossing films released between 1990 and 2006, found that males appeared almost three times more than females (2.71 to 1). This ratio did not vary with time or across rating (G, PG, PG-13, or R). Some startling facts came to light: TV shows and G-rated films tend to depict more working males than females which distorts the reality that women now comprise almost half of the American workforce, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are many effects from exposure to current portrayals of women and girls in film, television, print and the music industry that can affect attitudes about gender, but two of the most important are:
- Standards of “acceptable” behavior. According to The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heros and Heroines by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders, there are eight, reliable, female archetypes that recur in popular culture. These include the Boss, the Seductress, the Spunky Kid/Sidekick, the Free Spirit, the Waif, the Librarian, the Crusader and the Nurturer/Mother-figure. By observing (and identifying with) these archetypes, girls and women may be conditioned to behave in a way that reflects these characters even though they are incomplete depictions of women.
- Expectations in relationships. Exposure to stereotypical portrayals of women may affect beliefs about interpersonal relationships. Research shows that overall TV viewing is associated with dysfunctional relationship expectations such as mind-reading and sexual perfectionism. Frequently women are portrayed as being innately manipulative, emotional, sexual and a host of other traits that may contribute to real-life challenges in day to day personal and business interaction between men and women.
Investigate how various media platforms portray females, the messages girls hear throughout childhood and adolescence and how these portrayals impact female identity, outlook and choices. Give examples of positive portrayals that convey women’s worth and positive role models. Then propose and write a campaign to counter typecasts and highlight female diversity, intellectual ability and positive characteristics for leadership.
WOMEN IN POLITICS AND PUBLIC LEADERSHIP
Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media, was quoted in the film Missrepresentation as saying, “Media is the message and the messenger.” The film goes on to point out that the media makes some of the most derogatory comments towards the most powerful women in our country. According to The White House Project, women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population but, in contrast, they comprise only 17 percent of Congress, 15 percent of mayors of cities with populations over 100,000, 24 percent of state legislators and there are only 6 female governors. Women make up 45 percent of the CEOs at nonprofits, but only 21 percent of the CEOs at nonprofits with budgets of $25 million or more. In addition, women only make up 15 percent of all military officers, 18 percent of law partners and only one in four judges. In contrast, internationally women have achieved significant leadership positions in widely varied countries around the world. Currently there are 18 countries led by a female head of state, among them India, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Germany, Liberia and Bangladesh. Of the top 10 most populous nations, the United States ranks with China, Russia, Japan and Nigeria as never having had a female head of state.
Research what messages the media sends women about pursuing political aspirations or positions of public leadership and the impact the media can have on their careers. Explore what other countries have done to increase female participation in the highest levels of government and public service, and give examples of success. Then, develop a model for how the U.S. can increase women’s participation in public leadership and bring about political parity.
FEMALE SELF WORTH AND BODY IMAGE AROUND THE WORLD
Every day girls and women the world over are exposed to what the fashion industry tells them is the standard of beauty: tall and slender, long legs and a narrow waist and a total lack of curvaceous figures. From clothing cuts and sizes to mannequins and runway models, women and girls are constantly told that whatever their body shape and type is, it’s not the right one. According to the Media Awareness Network, by the time a student has graduated from high school, s/he has been exposed to over 350,000 advertisements selling everything from clothing, cars and food to detergent, technology and travel. Despite the high rates of women who seek higher education and pursue professional degrees, female intellectual prowess is rarely illustrated in media or advertising as valuable and integral to society. Rather, women’s bodies – often times in unrealistic or fantasized form - are portrayed in the media as most desirable and valuable, and are used more often than women’s brains to entice buyers. Media targeted at young women perpetuate through photos, articles and advertisements the belief that women should care more about their looks and their bodies than their intellect. Due to this misconstrued image of the female body, women are left yearning for an unrealistic body type and men are left expecting women to look a way that is unattainable for most of the female population.
Research standards of female beauty around the world, then develop and support a thesis for the underlying messages the fashion industry sends females and males and the impact this can have on observers. Write a proposal for the fashion and advertising industry to embrace women and their natural figures. This should also include ways to educate children and adolescents on the positive aspects of a healthy body image and subsequent characteristics of effective female leaders.
2012 Scholarship Questions: Discover Prize
WOMEN IN MEDIA LEADERSHIP
According to the Women’s Media Center’s recently released report, The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2012, women hold less than 7% of decision-making positions in the media and entertainment industry, such as, producers, directors, editors or publishers. Data compiled from several leading sources and from recent research articles on media gender inequity reveal that over the past decade, women consistently have been underrepresented in news and entertainment media and consistently underrepresented in occupations that determine the content of news and entertainment media. At the local level, women consistently comprised 40.2 percent of the total local television news force between 2004 and 2011, with proportions of women news directors during this time between roughly 21 and 29 percent. And despite constituting 65% of all undergraduate and graduate journalism and mass communications students, females were chosen for only 25 percent of all new media jobs created from 1990 -2005. Additionally, the Report concluded, “Women also have been underrepresented in screen roles. When films and television do depict female characters, they often reflect gender stereotypes. Women in films, particularly young women, are far more likely than men to be hypersexualized.”
These statistics reveal that women are significantly underrepresented on the business side of the media industry and there are few women in the pipeline for future media leadership positions. Research has shown that underrepresentation and negative depictions in media have broad societal effects. How women are represented in media affects gender equity in general.
Research and report the impact/implication of the small number of women in media executive positions. How does this currently impact/influence which news is covered, TV programs are created, or films are produced? Give examples. Outline and develop a step-by-step proposal to increase women’s representation and influence in the media industry to better reflect demographic reality and to develop practical approaches to increase the proportion of positive female television and film characters and woman-centric stories.
CHILDREN AND ROLE MODELS
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media conducted a study to see what G-Rated films are teaching children about the world of work. During the study, they reviewed and assessed all G-Rated films released between September 2006 and September 2009. The study found that across the sample, there were 333 working roles, 268 of which were played by males. The 65 remaining positions were held by women. In addition, the study found that the majority of the positions held by women were blue-collar or fell in line with those of assistants and secretaries. According to the study, there is a direct correlation between viewing television shows and stereotyping of occupations along gender-linked lines.
Review the study then conduct a similar one of your own by selecting three G-Rated films released between 2010-2011 and dissecting them to uncover the messages being sent young audience members regarding gender and occupation. Use research to develop and support a thesis on how the role models displayed in these films can impact and affect children’s aspirations. Finally, use your findings to debunk three stereotypes about gender and the world of work.
WOMEN AND PERCEPTIONS OF ABILITY, SUCCESS, AND POWER
In the popular media, especially print and advertising targeted at women, visual portrayals of contemporary women have become increasingly provocative. A number of key women exercise significant influence in this arena. Female editor-in-chiefs such as Anna Wintour of Vogue, Glenda Bailey of Harper’s Bazaar, Constance C.R. White of Essence, Kate White of Cosmopolitan, and Cindi Leive of Glamour, among others, currently oversee some of the most popular women’s magazines that frame readers’ outlooks and ideas about how women should look and what they should wear. Additionally, as consumers of popular culture and many of the products advertised in current media, women make over 75 percent of the purchasing decisions in the retail, financial, transportation, shelter, travel, sports and lifestyle sectors, ostensibly “buying in” to those images.
Research and review images of contemporary women as portrayed in popular magazines and of current real world female leaders in business and politics. Compare and contrast those images and write an essay exploring the impact of today’s provocative and stylized images on cultural perceptions about women’s ability and power to lead effectively in business and the world. Explore ideas about how effective leadership, power and success are conveyed, and the significance, if any, of women in media defining and perpetuating idealized physical images of females.
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