Hardin & Shain

Hardin & Shain - Critical Studies in Media...

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‘‘Feeling Much Smaller than You Know You Are’’: The Fragmented Professional Identity of Female Sports Journalists Interviews with women working as sports journalists showed that they must negotiate several tensions, including balancing their conflicting identities as woman and as professional journalist. Nevertheless, in the end, they also saw the two as compatible. They fell along a spectrum of resistance to traditional values in sports and journalism, providing evidence of cracks in hegemonic notions of what it means to be a woman covering sports. Keywords: Women; Sports; Sports Journalism; Socialization The role and representation of women in mass media always have been of concern to American feminists, especially those aligned with liberal feminism. One objective of the liberal feminist movement has been to change the ‘‘professional pecking order’’ of women in media organizations, and, consequently, their under-representation in the media (Ferguson, 1990). Liberal feminists assume that increased media visibility leads to greater power and access for women. Ferguson, however, argued that the notion of employment ± / representation ± / empowerment is a ‘‘feminist fallacy,’’ based on faulty assumptions about gender and power. Among others making the same argument, van Zoonen (1994, 1998) doubts that individual women who enter media professions have the power to improve depictions of women. Another incorrect assumption is that women who are promoted will incorporate a feminist agenda as part of their professional goals Marie Hardin is Assistant Professor in the Center for Sports Journalism at Pennsylvania State University. Stacie Shain is an independent researcher. The authors thank the Center for Sports Journalism, which provided support for this project, and thank Linda Steiner and the two reviewers for their help. Correspondence to: Marie Hardin, Pennsylvania State University College of Communications, 222 Carnegie, University Park, PA 16802, USA. Email: [email protected] ISSN 0739-3180 (print)/ISSN 1479-5809 (online) # 2006 National Communication Association DOI: 10.1080/07393180600933147 Critical Studies in Media Communication Vol. 23, No. 4, October 2006, pp. 322 ² 338
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(Ferguson, 1990). Perhaps the most problematic assumption is that women who work in media institutions will become immune to the hegemonic, ‘‘commonsense’’ gender relations that permeate and govern media environments. Thus, some feminist scholars reject the idea that a ‘‘body count’’ that moves women toward critical mass in newsrooms matters (Creedon, 1998; van Zoonen, 1994). Instead, and taking seriously the impact of professional ideology and journalistic culture, they suggest that women carry much ideological baggage with them into newsrooms. Women must negotiate identity contradictions (woman, journalist) to succeed in male-dominated work- places. This study explores how women who are U.S. sports journalists negotiate the
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Hardin & Shain - Critical Studies in Media...

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