Study: Women no longer need exceptional qualifications to win Pulitzers, but...

University of Missouri

Differences in the backgrounds of male and female Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists have lessened, a study finds. University of Missouri professor Yong Volz and Chinese University of Hong Kong professor Francis L. F. Lee examined the backgrounds of all 814 Pulitzer winners between 1917 and 2010; they found that until 1991, women who won were more likely to have earned a graduate degree, come from large urban areas, work for a prestigious news organization, and be part of a winning team.

"Having an Ivy League education and being a cosmopolite not only carries a cachet and privilege in American society, but it also constitutes an advantage that spills over to the journalistic industry,” said Volz in the press release.

That gender disparity "has not completely disappeared," Volz and Lee write.

Even after 1991, only 26.9% of all Pulitzer winners in journalism were females. The percentage is lower than the percentage of females in American newsrooms, which stands at about 33 percent. In other words, while the field of journalism has become relatively more open to women, they still face more difficulties achieving career advancement. Being a woman is not only a disadvantage when entering the field, but also when it comes to gaining professional recognition within the field.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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