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Launch of the Charter against ageism and sexism in the Media

by on October 4, 2013

An excellent launch event yesterday for the Charter against ageism and sexism in the media. This is a public pledge developed as part of the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme in conjunction with the Centre for Women, Ageing and Media, the National Union of Journalists and Women in Journalism.

There was much discussion about the disappearance of older women in the media and (to use discourse analysis terminology) the limited subject positions available to such women. In other words, how society talks, e.g. about older age and work, limits what we think of as possible for older women to do, to be and to achieve. An interesting contribution from Jean Rogers of Equity was the shortage of acting roles for older actresses to play on TV, radio and the stage and therefore the almost inevitable career decline that they faced. As she said, if those roles are not ‘there’, then older women are not ‘there’. A challenge to authors to write some decent parts!

Fiona Mactaggart MP gave an update on the Labour Party Commission on Older Women. They commissioned a survey into the percentages of men and women below and above 50 in different media (e.g. TV and radio, not just as presenters but as reporters, correspondents and ‘experts’). Women of all ages are under-represented in reporter and correspondent roles, in TV whilst 50% of presenters under 50 are women this drops to 18% of presenters over 50.

Excellent presentations from both Anne Karpf at London Metropolitan University whose upcoming book How to Age sounds like a very thoughtful examination of what it means to age (out next January) and from Lorna Warren at Sheffield University whose Look at Me! project has deservedly done so much to challenge the current perceptions of older women in our society.

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