Though you’ve probably read plenty of analysis about whether the last Democratic presidential debate was sexist bullying or simply showed the candidates taking on the lone frontrunner, here’s one more commentary worth a review.

Carol Jenkins, president of the Women’s Media Center, brings up points about the media gender balance that are a key part of this debate:

More vividly than ever before, it is clear that hardly anyone knows how to handle the first-ever woman frontrunner, including the media and that candidate’s "handlers." What should have been a fairly simple "piling on" the leader of the pack became a boys versus girls schoolyard brawl — her nervous team seeming to portray the guys ganging up on "Hill." The "final straw," said some media pundits, was Hillary’s appearance the same week at her alma mater, offering up that her all-girl school education had helped her in her fight against the all-boy, old boy network.

I must say I find the reaction of outrage from some quarters to that statement mystifying. It is hard to argue against the evidence of one woman in the field of more than 15 presidential candidates paired with a never-ending slate of male moderators the networks have put forward. In more than 20 debates, including some online, only six women have participated compared to more than 30 men. Only Judy Woodruff has moderated solo, on PBS. Even though we expect Katie Couric and Bob Schieffer to anchor a debate on CBS in December, how can we not think of what we’re witnessing as anything but the traditional all-boys club?  But the important message here is that our exclusionary media is as much on display as our deficient political process. I still want to know: Where is the slate of newswomen who consistently get to ask the big, important questions. Don’t tell me there aren’t any.

Plus: Libby Copeland of the Washington Post has put together "Rules for a Fair Fight," a primer for all presidential candidates.

The pay gap between male and female directors of companies and public bodies has widened in the UK, according to research by the Institute of Directors that found female executives were paid 22 percent less on average than their male counterparts last year. But figures from the Office of National Statistics point to a shrinking pay gap (albeit a small reduction, from 17.5 percent to 17.2 percent) for the whole working population, reports the BBC.

The Miami Herald covers two conferences that took place in South Florida featuring high-level female executives (here are some quoted excerpts). One of the speakers was Kempston Darkes, GM Group vice president/Latin America, Africa and Middle East, who "not only holds the highest operating post ever achieved by a woman at General Motors, she also peddles cars in some countries where women aren’t even allowed to drive."

No Laughing Matter: "A research project led by a Western Carolina University psychology professor indicates that jokes about blondes and women drivers are not just harmless fun and games; instead, exposure to sexist humor can lead to toleration of hostile feelings and discrimination against women," according to this press release.

"Our research demonstrates that exposure to sexist humor can create conditions that allow men — especially those who have antagonistic attitudes toward women — to express those attitudes in their behavior," said Thomas E. Ford, a faculty member in the psychology department at WCU. "The acceptance of sexist humor leads men to believe that sexist behavior falls within the bounds of social acceptability."

The article, "More Than Just a Joke: The Prejudice-Releasing Function of Sexist Humor," is scheduled for publication in the February issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Christine

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