In India, the focus of feminist communication research has been the negative portrayal of women in mass media. As far as “Doordarshan” is concerned, a first systematic study on women’s employment was undertaken by Joshi (1987) as part of the UNESCO’S research project.
Although this study was based on limited and fragmentory information of all India level, it gave us some broad trends on employment of women in television.
The study revealed unequal pattern of women’s employment in Doordarshan. Representation of women in senior management positions was limited. There were hardly any women, who could play a crucial role in decision making.
However, in production categories, women accounted for a relatively high proportion of producers. About 28 percent of producers were women. This was significant as producers play an important role in programme content and presentation. A study by MAG (1994) revealed that there are now more women in the media workforce than they were twenty years ago.
The decision making in these organizations remain overwhelmingly the domain of man. With the exception of a few, women are underrepresented in senior positions in Doordarshan and AIR. Most women employees in this organization are in the lower levels of organizational hierarchy.
In order to improve images of men and women in television and radio, representation of women as decision makers needs to be strengthened. It does matter who makes programmes and who make decisions about them.
Senior decision makers with a gender sensitive perspective can use their persuasive power to empower others and change the image and status of women in media organizations.
As far as print media is concerned, late seventies and eighties in India witnessed the emergence of lot of women journalists. The choice of many educated women to take to this profession which was till recently considered a bastion of men is a sign of women of India joining the main stream decision making process in an important way.
The last twenty years of print media is a story of women’s participation in an area that focuses on the national agenda of great public interest.
Jha, further notes, “two-way traffic between the press and social activist agencies became possible because of the presence of women personnel in the media. And it is a commendable job that they have been doing.
They have expanded the role of media itself by including for discussion ‘development issues’ and interlinking these with political questions”. Women directors like Aparna Sen, Sai Paranjpe, Kalpana Lajmi have made their impact through parallel cinema.
They have made an attempt to break away from main stream cinema and have presented themes on women or the issues concerning common man’s life. These creative women directors can shape the messages of cinema to highlight positive images of women.
The powerful actresses like Jaya Bachhan and Shabana Azmi have contributed by portraying strong women characters, deviating from normal stereotyped roles. Thus, women in cinema have tried to make their impact as far as portrayal of women is concerned.
No systematic study has been done on women in cinema medium. By all means, Indian cinema till today is dominated by men in all aspects of film making.
Unfortunately very limited research is undertaken on women’s employment in various media organizations, or media industries. No data is available as to what percentage of women take up career in freelancing media production or with NGO’s working on media production.
Thus, there is paucity of research in this area. Communication researchers should take up studies on women’s employment in various mass media. This may provide guideline for bringing gender equality in the employment in mass media.
It is true that women are lagging behind men in the media work force. AT the same time, it is also a fact that there has been progress in this regard.
There is more number of women employed now in media organization and in senior positions. Once they acquire power positions in the media workforce, the task of improving women’s images in media will become easier.