Boston is well known as the birthplace of the American Revolution, but it may be less well known as a beginning for women in journalism.
[avatar user=”Tounarouze” size=”thumbnail” align=”left”]By Tounarouse El Yazidi[/avatar]First published in 1870, the weekly Women’s Journal was almost exclusively written and edited by women and covered issues such as the suffrage movement.
The journal had a diverse audience. It was sold nationwide and in 39 foreign countries for 61 years.
“The paper was full of opinions but was very popular,” said Emmanuel Paraschos, a journalism professor at Emerson College, and author of The Boston Journalism Trail. The book offers a walking tour of 39 locations related to historic publications. The Women’s Journal is the 25th stop on the trail.
The journal allowed women to prove themselves in an industry dominated by men.
“They would not allow men to work there. They wanted to be all women running the show,” Paraschos said.
Female journalists in the 19th century were faced with issues concerning gender inequality that were covered by The Women’s Journal.
“It must not have been easy for them at that time, that’s why they chose to make their own medium,” Paraschos said.
He believes that an increase in the integration of women in the field of journalism is crucial to its evolution as “their stories tend to be slightly different. They have a more sensitive ear to society, and they have different priorities than men,” he said.
As for the status of women in journalism today, Shirley Leung, a business columnist at The Boston Globe, has noticed a persistent increase in women interested in the field.
“I don’t think there is a shortage of women going into the field. It’s great!” she said.
In fact, more women than men are enrolled in journalism schools today, according to Data USA. For instance, at the University of Missouri, 467 women received journalism degrees in 2016 compared to 192 men, according to the website.
Leung believes that newsrooms are more gender equal than ever. The unbalanced ratios that are most prominent are the ones regarding the management of newspapers.
“It does all come down to having more women in management because then you can have more women at the table-setting policies.” Leung said.
Additionally, Leung discussed ways in which the industry can facilitate the integration of women into the newsroom.
She suggested that companies focus on policies that support women and families such as parental leave. By addressing women’s needs in the workplace, more specifically journalism, Leung believes that more equal ratios can be achieved.
“I think companies or newspapers have to be intentional in wanting to advance women in the workplace. We just need some more flexibility,” she said.
She also believes that the field of journalism as an industry is more welcoming and less limiting of women today than 25 years ago.
“I feel like women feel like they have a path to any job in the newsroom, and part of it is because there are role models. We see other women there,” said Leung.
With the creation of publications such as the Women’s Journal, the legacy of women in journalism has come a long way, according to Paraschos.
Those early female journalists “were well educated and accomplished women” said Paraschos.
“They didn’t have the right to vote, men were pushing them around, and they took it upon themselves to have their voice heard,” he said.