French and Baker-Webster co-author book chapter

Dr. Sandra French

By Joe Huss    

School of Communication professors, Dr. Sandra French and Dr. Lisa Baker-Webster, have yet another co-authored book chapter under their belt. 

The chapter is entitled, “Who’s That Girl: The Misrepresentation of Female Corporate Leaders in TIME Magazine” and published in Gender, Media, and Organization: Challenging Mis(s)Representations of Women Leaders and Managers.

What French and Baker-Webster looked at during their research was the covers of TIME magazine to see how many times a female business leader appeared on the cover since the conception of the magazine in 1923.

After looking at every single cover up until 2014 they put together a database of every time a female appeared on the cover and separated them into who was a business leader. What they found is that since 1923, only six female corporate leaders have appeared on the cover of TIME magazine. Even more interesting is that three of the six have only appeared since 2013.

French and Baker-Webster also looked at the way these women appeared on the covers. Specifically, they looked at the way they were dressed and the ways the covers were photographed through the perspective of communication theorist Kathleen Jamieson.

Jamieson talks about women being in “double binds” meaning women can’t win. Women can be perceived as feminine and womanly or they can be considered competent. But they can’t be both.

The six covers, as French and Baker-Webster discovered, indicated double binds. Some of the women would wear suits trying to look like men while others tried to look like women by wearing jewelry and makeup.

Commenting on their findings, French said, “Masculinity is still considered to be a leadership standard.”

“The hope is for the textbook to be used in gender studies programs, women’s studies programs and people who teach leadership,” said French.

Dr. Lisa Baker-Webster

This isn’t the first time French and Baker-Webster have worked together on a research project. Several years ago they had another book chapter published together. That chapter was about women working in academia.

French said of working with Baker-Webster, “I feel like we work really well together and complement each other’s strengths and balance each other’s weaknesses.”

Baker-Webster agreed saying, “We work really well together. I do much more of the PR, marketing she’s more traditional communication studies and rhetoric and there’s a lot of things that we have been able to join in together and match those two areas of communications studies.”

Feb 27, 2017
School of Communication