In the wake of an explosion of headlines regarding sexual harassment and workplace misconduct, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications has created a series centered on pressing workplace issues impacting women in the media.
“Women, the Media and the Workplace” features speakers including Cronkite faculty and guests from news outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post and ESPN.
The series is meant to educate students on the issues and also equip them with tools to handle situations they may face in the workplace, according to its website.
The first panel discussion included Stephanie McCrummen, Rebecca Corbett and Olivia Messer, journalists who broke or oversaw coverage of the sexual harassment stories on Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein and sexism in the Texas legislature, respectively.
All of the discussions in the series will take place in the First Amendment Forum at the Cronkite School and will be available to watch online, including the first installment, which can be viewed here.
“You read the stories and you hear about them, but you don’t really understand the process that it took to get to that point,” said Sarandon Raboin, a sports journalism freshman who attended the first event.
Raboin also said she was grateful the school was confronting these sensitive topics in the midst of the current national conversation surrounding sexual harassment.
“It’s shining light on a dark subject,” Raboin said.
Julia Wallace, the moderator of the series and the Cronkite School’s Frank Russell Chair, said that recent events made it clear that a school-wide effort was needed to address these issues.
“Students have been talking about it among themselves, in classes and with family," Wallace said. "But we thought it was important to have a conversation with the University."
Wallace’s personal experience in the field and as a professor lent itself to how she addresses these issues throughout the series.
“When I taught ethics and diversity a year ago, I did three days on gender during which I said to the students that things are going to happen as a woman in any field that is predominantly male, and you are going to have to make decisions about what you want to do,” Wallace said. “Frankly, I think the younger generation is responding by saying 'enough is enough.'”
Kristin Gilger, senior associate dean of the Cronkite School, will serve as a panelist for the final event of the series on April 10, during which she will share insights from her own career and experiences and talk about historical approaches to addressing sexual harassment.
“Our approach to this was basically to tough it out,” Gilger said, “show you can do great work and all of these problems will go away – we were wrong.”
Global movements including #MeToo and #TimesUp have also had a tremendous impact on how conversations surrounding sexual harassment are being held, making it clear that this isn’t a problem confined to one group or profession, Gilger said.
“If nothing else, many women who might not (have) ever spoken up about this in any other way felt pretty comfortable with posting #MeToo,” Gilger said.
In addition to the speaker series, Gilger and Wallace are co-authoring a book telling the stories of prominent women in the media, which they are hoping to finish by summer 2018.
“The book is a lot about what these women did to get ahead, how they got ahead, the experiences they had, mistakes they made and the things they did right in a way that your generation can read and learn from,” Gilger said.
Gilger said she is optimistic that both the "Women, the Media and the Workplace" series and the upcoming book will help open up the conversation at ASU on and off campus.
“We can spur a conversation that’s larger than the school,” Gilger.