NEWS | 8 Mar 2019

A celebration of feminist media scholars and activists

Today, on the International Women’s Day, we are highlighting one of the chapters in an upcoming anthology. The chapter explores how gender inequalities are reproduced and transformed via media.

 - It can be seen as a celebration to the work of feminist media scholars and activists, says researcher Sara De Vuyst, one of the authors of the chapter.

The chapter Transforming the News Media. Overcoming Old and New Gender Inequalities is written by Claudia Padovani, Karin Raeymaeckers and Sara De Vuyst and is part of an upcoming anthology on Digital Media Inequalities (ed. Josef Trappel). It explores how gender inequalities are reproduced and transformed via media, focusing on both old and new gender inequalities. 

Old gender inequalities refer to gender barriers that have been widely documented by researchers staring from the 1970s such as sexism, gender stereotypes about journalism and leadership skills and work-life balance. 

- Old gender inequalities still play a big role in limiting women’s opportunities and representation in the media, and often remain invisible. Think about all the women that came forward with their experiences of sexual harassment after #MeToo, says Sara De Vuyst. 

New gender inequalities, in turn, refer to gender issues related to recent media industry trends such as globalization processes and digital developments that have not been explored as much. 


Wants to raise awareness 

Sara De Vuyst is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Communication Studies at Ghent University in Belgium. She explains that this chapter wants to raise awareness of gender obstacles in the media and reflect on how these can be overcome. 

- We shed light on how media can both reproduce gender bias and deny women’s chances of participating in the public debate as well as be an ally in feminist struggles and mobilize against patriarchy.


A celebration to feminist research and activism 

Questions of media inequalities have a long history in research. When asked what she think should be done in order to make media more equal, De Vuyst points to the importance of taking into account that gender equality is not a linear process and that it is sensitive to setbacks.

- Moving forward means being attentive to forms of backlash. For example, even though social media were an ally to the #MeToo movement, women are also vulnerable to digital harassment in those spaces, says De Vuyst. 

Besides that, she also believes that solidarity among feminist activists, researchers and media professionals is an important tool in overcoming new and old inequalities. 

- This chapter can be seen as a celebration to the work of feminist media scholars and activists that have worked hard to put gender issues on the agenda, but also of those who made us aware of blind spots, for example, the lack of attention to intersectional issues, De Vuyst says. 


The chapter is part of the anthology Digital Media Inequalities. Policies Against Divides, Distrust and Discrimination edited by Josef Trappel, professor in Media Policy and Media Economics at the University of Salzburg. It will be published on March 22 and available as open access on our website. 



This chapter is aimed for researchers working on gender issues in the media and journalists associations, media organizations and media educators interested in international good practices and recommendations. Media professionals, educators and students who would like to know more about the topics addressed in the chapter can also visit for video lectures and additional resources on gender and technology, policies and other topics related to gender and media.