A Fifteen-Year Census of Gender-Based Convention Research: Scholarship Rates by Women within AEJMC Divisions, Interest Groups, and Commissions (1994 to 2008)

By Applegate, Edd; Bodle, John Torres et al. | Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

A Fifteen-Year Census of Gender-Based Convention Research: Scholarship Rates by Women within AEJMC Divisions, Interest Groups, and Commissions (1994 to 2008)


Applegate, Edd, Bodle, John Torres, Farwell, Tricia M., Livingston, Randy, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


This study considers refereed scholarship and levels of inclusion by gender within and between AEJMC's divisions, interest groups, and commissions. It is a census of all blindly reviewed research accepted to the AEJMC conventions from 1994 to 2003. Women are authoring convention research at rates (49.2%) above their percentage of membership in AEJMC (between 40% in 2002 and 44.6% in 2010). Women currently author a majority of the convention scholarship on issues related to cultural and critical studies (60.8%); they have drastically increased their participation in research related to media management and economics.

Women seem to be making progress toward the goal set by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) for 50% representation by women and minorities1 on journalism and mass communication faculties and among administrators.2 In 1989, women held 28.7%3 of faculty positions, and this number increased to 35.5% by 1998.4 The membership of AEJMC continues to mirror this disparity as well, but it also reflects movement toward gender-based representative equality in the organization. Since the election of Mary A. Gardner as the first female AEJMC president in 1978, women have held the top position of the organization more than a dozen times. A 2010 census of AEJMC membership reported that women represented 44.6% of its members,5 up from 40% in 2002,6 32.6% in 1996,7 28% in 1992,® and 24% in 1988.9

Curiously, during this period when women represented between 24% and 28% of the organizational membership, they produced 41% of blindly refereed research papers presented to AEJMC conventions from 1987 to 1993.10 A census of AEJMC convention research from 1994 to 2003 found even further progress, with women then authoring 42.9% of convention scholarship11 and their percentage of membership in AEJMC increasing to 40%.12 This study (new data for 2004 to 2008) updates that earlier study of AEJMC convention research productivity (1994 to 2003) by detailing productivity totals for gender for divisions, commissions, committees, interest groups, and task force scholarship, and compares it with the most recent gender composition of the organization's membership (44.6% female in 201013). When findings are combined with the earlier study, it also documents trends in co-sponsorship among these groups at AEJMC conventions from 1994 to 2008. Thus, it becomes possible to quantitatively probe the extent to which AEJMC is meeting its diversity goals in terms of the numeric involvement of women in convention scholarship and which divisions, commissions, committees, interest groups, and task forces are top choices to which women submit research.

Literature Review

Many women report they have, over the years, been fighting to gain acceptance and recognition in the mass communication field and within AEJMC.14 This battle encompassed everything from being assigned courses that taught "women's work" to barriers to networking at conferences. Some have said that the 1972 AEJ(MC) Convention presentation of Rush, Oukrop and Ernst's "(More Than You Ever Wanted to Know) About Women and Journalism Education"15 opened the discussion of the issues women were facing. A 2002 survey showed that women still perceive discrimination in terms of salary, promotion, and appointment to administrative roles.16 A 2006 survey even found that young female academics felt the need to downplay their looks.17

Yet, it appears that convention presentations may be one area where women are somewhat on the rise. Adams and Bodle first documented a slow and steady increase in the percentage of convention papers presented by women at the convention of AEJMC from 1987 to 1993. The percentage of convention scholarship authored by women increased nearly every year from 1987 (32.5%) to 1993 (45.8%),18 a per capita rate much higher than (as noted earlier) their 24% to 28% numeric AEJMC membership representation during the period of study. …

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