Stories of women who paved the way for other women to advance in the communications field are being told through a new video project by Sam Houston State University’s mass communication department chair.
Glenda Balas of Sam Houston State University and Jan Schuetz of the University of New Mexico are producing “Facing Down the Odds: Women Pioneers in Communication.”
They are interviewing women who were instrumental in opening the door for others like Balas, who now works in a university setting in the communication discipline. They will look into their lives, careers and experiences.
The inspiration for the project came from one of Balas’s experiences. In 2005, she interviewed a woman who had received a post-doctoral fellowship at a prominent university in the late 1920s. Soon after, the woman’s fellowship was withdrawn because the administrators learned she was pregnant.
Balas and Schuetz chose to focus their project on women in their 70s and 80s who are in the communication field. Each holds a doctoral degree, and each has carved a meaningful and substantive life in the academic workplace. The women all tell stories about being discriminated against because of either having a child or being a woman.
Discrimination based on pregnancy will be a part of the message, according to Balas. It will show that there “were struggles with women who had children, and that there is still discrimination. These women, through their own courage and perseverance, made an effort to open the door to others and worked generously to make that happen for women who would follow them,” she said.
Balas and Shuetz said their goal is “to produce a video documentary that honors these women and the roles they have played to improve the lot of women in academics.”
The video project received funding from the Feminist Research Institute at the University of New Mexico as well as the National Communication Association’s Special Report Project Fund.
The NCS felt this project made an important contribution to the understanding of women’s roles in the ‘50s and ‘60s in the development of our discipline, according to Balas.
The finished product will be submitted to interested libraries and professors. It is not a profit-centered project but instead a scholarly piece of work.
Balas and Schuetz started the first interview for this project in May of 2008. It is estimated to be completed by January 2010.
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