ABSTRACT

The history of communication research, like so many things, is largely a chronicle of men’s words and deeds, and this chapter aims to provide a modest corrective to that male-ordered discourse, albeit that much of the discussion about the broad topic of gender and media is one of absences rather than presences. Moreover, unlike many aspects of communication research which can trace their antecedents back to the nineteenth century and even earlier, scholarship in the area of gender and media is still a very young sub-discipline, not least because it is only relatively recently that the politics of sex-based relationships and, consequently, their media manifestation, has become a subject for academic study. Importantly, and concurrently, it was in acknowledging the constructed nature of femininity and masculinity that the idea of gender as a site of defi nitional struggle within culture and society came to be regarded as a legitimate topic for analysis. More than fi fty years ago, Jack Hester wrote that history had been mostly “stag affairs,” and, although women’s contribution to media’s historical development is now being mapped by any number of scholars, largely thanks to feminism’s second wave in the 1970s, their long-standing marginalisation means that a considerable amount of detective work continues to be necessary (Hester quoted in Smith 1998, 3). There is a growing body of historical research on aspects of the women-men-communication relation, particularly in areas such as interpersonal communication, discursive styles, workplace interaction, and so on (see, e.g., Tannen 1991; Johnson and Meinhof 1996; Coates 1998; Cameron 2008). There is also a developing body of work which looks at women’s involvement in the development of journalism practice, particularly in the United States, situating women’s employment in media industries in the wider socio-political and cultural context of the post-war period (see later discussion).