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Women in the Media: From the Margins to the Mainstream (February 2020): Home

by Camille McCutcheon


This bibliographic essay originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of Choice (volume 57 | number 6) 


In the introduction to Taking Their Place: A Documentary History of Women and Journalism, Maurine Hoffman Beasley and Sheila Jean Gibbons noted that women have made significant contributions to American journalism, while at the same time facing obstacles such as gender discrimination, racism, salary inequities, and societal attitudes toward women working in the media. Working in fields dominated by males, women journalists have “fought to move from the margins of the media industry into its mainstream, determined to report news on an equal par with men and ensure that women are taken seriously as news sources and subjects.”1

Though women have made significant contributions to American media over the decades—and centuries—many pathbreaking women remain little known or forgotten. Prior to the 1990s, scholarly professional literature on women working in the media was scant and consisted primarily of popular books and titles that lacked sufficient documentation or solid critical analysis. Since then scholarly publishing on women working in the media has burgeoned. The purpose of this essay is to highlight scholarly secondary resources published in recent decades and at the same time shed light on individual women. In most instances, this essay will cite the best title on a given woman journalist or on a subject relevant to women working in the media. With a few exceptions, the titles discussed will pertain to women working in US media.

Primary resources—autobiographies, memoirs, and compilations of journalistic writings—are available for many of these women. Many of the secondary resources noted in this essay have been written by authors who are either former journalists or journalism historians. Some of the secondary resources discussed shed light on subfields within journalism that have received scant attention from scholars. In addition to supporting coursework on women working in the media or on journalism history, the titles discussed here could support coursework in a variety of other disciplines, including history, women’s studies, and African American studies.

This essay is divided into several broad sections. The first section looks at reference works and foundational texts. The sections that follow are topical—“Newspaper Journalism,” “Periodical Journalism,” “Correspondents Abroad,” “Covering Finance, Business, and Politics,” “A Word about Women’s Page Journalism,” and “Gender Equity”—though for the most part they unfold chronologically.

A word about terminology: This essay uses the terms media, journalism, and reporting somewhat interchangeably. This reflects the fact that though digital media are of course a huge component of what we call media, until quite recently media meant primarily print—newspapers, magazines—and broadcasting (radio and television). Those who worked in print were journalists, reporters, correspondents, columnists, publishers, and so on; likewise in broadcasting, with “broadcasters” substituting for “publishers.” This essay deals with print (including photography) and broadcasting only, hence the use of traditional terms.


1. First published as Women in Media: A Documentary Source Book (1977), Taking Their Place appeared in 1993 and has since been updated.

Camille McCutcheon holds the rank of Librarian and is Coordinator of Collection Management and Administrative Services at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Works Cited