Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Pat Mitchell, trailblazing media executive, Emmy award-winning and Oscar-nominated producer, Board Chair of Women’s Media Center and Sundance Institute, and Editorial Director of TEDWomen.
1. Your new book Becoming A Dangerous Woman chronicles your personal journey to becoming a media trailblazer. What was it like to go back and look at your life through the lens of your multifaceted role in advocating for women?
I began the book four years ago when the Rockefeller Foundation president offered me a writing residency at Bellagio, encouraging me to extend my global mentoring and women’s leadership work by sharing my own stories from life and work. That residency was a great head start, but when I returned home, I found it hard to put aside the highly engaged ‘life’ I was committed to (and enjoying!) to write about my life, especially to look reflectively backward, as I’ve always been someone determined to keep moving forward.
Yet another U.S. feminist media outlet bites the dust. A lengthy article in the Sunday New York Times, December 8, 2019, “A Farewell to Feministing and the Heyday of Feminist Blogging” skirts around the reasons why. Is it, as author, Emma Rosenberg, writes, “Feminist media has been especially hard hit by the financial turbulence in the news industry”? Or, as she also states, “the sites were undone by their own popularity…..larger media organizations…hired [these women journalists]”? Rosenberg does a disservice by not being clear.
Money and the lack of it is the core reason that feminist media continues to have such trouble. This problem runs deeper than “turbulence in the news industry.” Over the summer, I wrote about other feminist media in trouble, and raised concern about how the chronic underfunding of feminist media has crippled the movement for gender equality.
Editor’s Note: While some feminist giving happens through funding, other women change agents risk their lives to do this important work. Below is an article featuring Sediqa Sherzai, who continues to the fight for women in Afghanistan.
KABUL, Dec 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In the decade since launching a radio station in northern Afghanistan, Sediqa Sherzai has braved mines and rocket attacks as the Taliban seeks to silence her. But she has kept going.
Fawzia Koofi, the country’s first female deputy of the lower house of parliament, has survived assassination and kidnap attempts. Last year, she was banned from running for re-election – so she set up her own party.
The legendary Pat Mitchell will be featured in an upcoming issue of the F-GIRL (Feminist Giving in Real Life) series here at Philanthropy Women. Leading up to that, I want to share Jacki Zehner’s recent post about Pat’s book, Becoming a Dangerous Woman, and talk about why Pat’s book, and her life story, are so important to feminist leadership.
Jacki does a great job of summarizing the astonishing path and background that sets the scene for Pat Mitchell’s book:
2020 is gearing up to be a landmark election year. The American Presidential election is well underway, and new faces and standing politicians alike are finding ways to come together on issues surrounding women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, climate change, and the economy.
A pioneer of online activism and a self-described “unapologetic feminist,” Fine is an author, a social change thought leader, and the founder of the Network of Elected Women (NEW), which connects women who hold local office around the country. She has also served as chair of the national board of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, as well as the president of her synagogue, Temple Beth Abraham.
Melinda Gates Commits $1 Billion to Gender Equity in the U.S. : It’s a good day for women’s giving when one of the richest women in the world declares she will invest $1 billion over ten years (still not enough!) in new efforts to address gender equality. Not surprisingly, Melinda lays awake at night worrying about many of the same things I worry about:
Here’s what keeps me up at night: I imagine waking up one morning to find that the country has moved on. That the media has stopped reporting on systemic inequalities. That diversity remains something companies talk about instead of prioritizing. That all of this energy and attention has amounted to a temporary swell instead of a sea change.
It would be an understatement to say I am looking forward to arriving in San Francisco today to participate in WomenFunded2019, this year’s annual conference for the Women’s Funding Network.
It’s an auspicious time for gender issues, as feminist givers are rising against a tide of hate and divisiveness, stepping into their power, and urging everyone to join them as they move forward with culture change. Women donors who take a feminist approach are often pivotal in helping to activate others with their leadership. These women listen closely to understand the issues impacting women and girls. To address these issues, they join together and support action that creates a more gender inclusive world.
The failure of the feminist movement to tackle changes in public media policy may be one of the most significant shortcomings of my generation. Take these few facts as proof. According to a report from the Global Media Monitoring Project by Margaret Gallagher entitled Who Makes the News?, the percentage of women in newsmaking roles stagnated at 23% from 2005 to 2015. And the output from media that focuses on women? Even more dismal. According to the report, “Across all media, women were the central focus of just 10% of news stories – exactly the same figure as in 2000.” And just a few more statistics to get your hair standing on end: women only directed 8% of the top 250 grossing films in 2018, and women-directed films reach just 2.75% of screens in the U.S.
In this video, I discuss what feminist leadership looks like for me as a publisher and writer. The discussion includes different domains of experience and how I apply feminist leadership in those domains.
Philanthropy Women covers funding for gender equity in all sectors of society. We want to significantly shift public discourse, particularly in philanthropy, toward increased action for gender equality. You can support our work and access unlimited and premium content with one of our subscriptions.
The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has awarded its first round of “Social Media and Democracy Research Grants.” The 12 projects provide “systematic scholarly access to privacy-protected Facebook data to study the platform’s impact on democracy worldwide.” The SSRC is an independent, international nonprofit led by Alondra Nelson, a Columbia University Professor of Sociology and inaugural Dean of Social Science for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Facebook data will be used by researchers to better understand the role of social media on politics and society, notably the spread of disinformation and fake news, and how social media users attach themselves to particular online narratives. Several of the projects analyze how social media has affected particular political events, including recent elections in Italy, Chile, and Germany, as well as public opinion in Taiwan. The projects also examine the relationship between Facebook and traditional news media, and delve into the complex question of what constitutes “fake news,” and how it can be distinguished from more fact-based reporting.