21th century Women and Leadership Roles in the Newsroom



The myth that our human world is a “men’s world” is founded upon the practical reality of the complete over-riding and dominant influence of the male over the female gender in all facets of our public life. Modern education together with the advancement in science and technology, which processes have accelerated in tandem especially in the last century, have tremendously increased the skill acquisitions and enhanced the productive efficiencies and capabilities of women as much as men. Armed with these two, women have expanded their roles from procreation and social care-giving within the family to major and significant contributions to development in all fields of human concern and endeavors. Yet in spite of their significant contributions in modern society, women have continued to be regarded and treated as a second fiddle and un-equal partners in the modern human development process.

The structure of inequality pitched against the female gender has become an issue of grave concern in human development discourses. One of the big challenges facing the world today is therefore how to eliminate the gender disparity and gap between men and women and allow equal opportunities to all human persons without recourse to gender bias. At the global level, the United Nations has taken the major step by highlighting the achievement of gender equality in our world as one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

At the level of individual nations, the global awareness campaign for the cause of women is yielding just very little results. This is especially the case with countries in Africa. The little change seems to be mainly in the area of politics, where the strong fight by the women has produced the first female President in Liberia today in the Person of Her Excellency, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In other public walks of life such as in the professions and specialized fields of work, women in Africa particularly have still remained marginalized and excluded especially from the commanding heights or echelon of leadership and control of the decision making and policy formulation processes.

Nigeria, like most African countries, is still faced with the big challenge of achieving a better status for the women gender in the public life of the nation. The Nigerian society generally seems to be very slow in accepting the change evolving in the roles of women in the modern world. The perception, attitude and recognition is still very low, with the result that women have continued to be marginalized and denied leadership positions in all walks of life. Leadership in noble professions like Medicine, Architecture, and Journalism among others is still the exclusive reserve of the men folk which is denied to women even when they qualify and excel in the professional practice. This is more or less a cultural thing.

The Journalism profession is particularly one of the crucial areas in which the marginalization and exclusion of women has played out most saliently in the modern Nigerian society. The representation of women in the media in Nigeria has long been an issue of major concern and one of the main areas of focus for research in mass media studies. These inquiries have focused on the way women are seen, faired and perceived by those who set media agenda in Nigeria. The issue is borne out of the subordination of women by those who control the mass media. As the problem still persists, the discourse can never cease to be carried on, hence the needs for more studies until the final solutions are found. This proposed research is yet another effort in that direction.