Stereotypes and symbolic annihilation: press constructions of women at the top

Press constructions of the appointment of a female to New Zealand’s top corporate position are examined against the theory that women are “symbolically annihilated” by the news media. A study of press clippings shows that news was framed primarily around gender and age and that questions about marital status and child-rearing devalued and trivialised the elevation of a woman to the top. Contrary to other research there is evidence that female reporters framed the news differently from male journalists. The strategies of challenging poor reporting practices and cultivating better performing journalists are outlined for use by women in management.

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