Claudia Padovani (Università degli Studi di Padova)


From 13:30
to 18:00
From 13:30
to 18:00

Course description
The international community is currently mobilising towards the celebration, and assessment of 30 years since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action during the 4th UN Conference on Women in 1995. The year 2025 will be an important year to reflect on and assess progress and achievements, as well as shortcoming, in gender equality and women’s empowerment, including their communication rights. The course offers students from different disciplinary backgrounds and geo-cultural contexts a unique opportunity to learn, reflect, discuss how gender inequalities characterise communicative environments globally, particularly the news media, and how these can be overcome.

The course connects issues of diversity and inclusion in the media to democratic developments and challenges in different societies: it frames media inequality issues within the reflection of democratic quality and the role of news media therein. By adopting a critical and comparative approach, the course provides conceptual, analytical and methodological tools to understand and address issues of (gender) diversity and inclusion in the media, and their relevance for democratic development. In doing so, the proposed course adopts a transdisciplinary trajectory, connecting knowledges from democracy, communication and gender studies. Particular attention is posed on the challenges of overcoming mediated stereotypes concerning women and men in politics and in public life. Hence, the course addresses issues of media un/equal representation, of unfair/exclusive language and use of images in news stories, of professional practices of news making and political reporting. Further topics include: harassment and violence against women in politics and public life; intersecting axes of power and privilege, such as race, age, sexual orientation, that play a role in media operations; and the role of advocacy and policy interventions in promoting diversity and inclusion in the media and communication at the local, national and supranational level.
In addressing the different topics, diverse perspectives are proposed, so as to reflect geo-cultural diversity and to foster an understanding of issues across the worlds of academia, news making, instances of civil society advocacy interventions.

This course proposal stems from the instructor’s participation in a number of international projects, most recently an EU-funded project (DG Justice, CERV-2022-24) titled "Rewriting the Story. Gender, Media and Politics” coordinated by the International Federation of Journalists. The project brings together journalists unions, media professionals and management of public service broadcasting from different European countries in a joint effort to overcome stereotypes in news media representation of women and men in political news in view of the elections of the European Parliament in June 2024. In that context the instructor has coordinated academic activities, both research and teaching, and developed a set of resources which are now accessible through the AGEMI Platform.

Students at VIU summer session will have the possibility to access and explore all such materials – including video, lectures, activities, students’ projects, collection of good practices, Media Monitoring Tools, guidelines for journalistic practices; to reflect and discuss gender issues in media and communication from a global-to-local perspective; and to contribute themselves towards further enriching the Rewriting the Story’s archive through class activities and project’s output. Furthermore, their reflections and contributions will be channeled through the Rewriting the Story Project Final Conference, to take place at San Servolo VIU in October 2024.
By working through a set of innovative learning resources and engaging with ongoing transnational advocacy initiatives to foster media gender equality, VIU students will have an opportunity to take part in a truly global conversation.



Virtual session 1
23 July 2024 (13.30 – 15.00 CET) – Introduction to course and participants, interactive session.

Virtual session 2
30 July 2024 (13.30 – 15.00 CET) – Introduction to course topics, interactive session.

Week 1 - The democratic wager of gender equality in media: a global perspective
Day 1 - Media and the wager of democracy
The media is central to political life. As the fourth pillar of democracy, media have a key role to hold power to account, exposing injustice, oppression, corruption and discrimination in society, even more so at a time when disinformation and misinformation are on the rise. The course will explore democratic developments, un-developments and challenges from a media perspective, building on the Media for Democracy Monitor project, findings and indicators (Tomaz & Trappel 2021; Padovani et al 2022).
Day 2 - Gender inequalities in media and communication: an overview
Historical perspectives on gender and media debates and interventions are core to a full understanding of today’s challenges, in order to appreciate the progress made over the past decades but also to identify the most urgent issues emerging in the digital ecosystem. The course will provide an overview of developments over time, building on various writings, including Padovani (2023), and projects such as the Global Media Monitoring Project and the GEM Project Comparing gender and media equality across the globe.

Week 2 - Unmasking gender inequalities in and through the media
Day 1 – Of stereotypes, misrepresentation and absences
The media shape the way people are viewed, having an impact on women’s participation in public life, decision-making roles, the exercise of their rights, their careers and opportunities. Inequalities in media content, particularly the news media, are rooted in stereotypical assumptions about gender roles in society and in stereotyped journalistic practices: unmasking such assumptions is a first step towards making change. Blatant as well as subtle stereotypes characterize media narratives. The course addresses this topic making use of the AGEMI Platform and available resources (Leraning Units 2, 3 and 4), with a focus on political news coverage (Rewriting the Story in AGEMI).
Day 2 – Of participation, career progresses and glass ceilings
Gender inequalities in media organizations and news making companies limits the possibility for the media to perform their democratic functions as monitors, facilitators and watchdogs. Understanding the constraints to women’s full and effective participation in media companies is core towards gaining awareness of the challenges young people may face when entering any intellectual profession. The course addresses this topic building on the EIGE “Advancing Gender Equality in Decision-making in Media Industries Report” (2013) and the AGEMI Platform (Learning Unit 5).

Week 3 - Addressing gender inequalities in media content and political coverage
Day 1 – Gendered political coverage
Women, in all their diversity, continue to be under-represented in politics and public life, in national parliaments and governments, and in local assemblies. In different world regions, measures are adopted to increase women’s participation in the media: who is behind the camera, who sits in the newsroom and who controls the news desk has an influence on what the public gets to read, hear and watch about the world’s events and the place women and men hold in society, particularly those involved in politics and decision-making. The course will address challenges faced by women politicians and their implications for democratic life, building on Ross et al (2020) and the Rewriting the Story in AGEMI resources.
Day 2 – Understanding and implementing media monitoring on political news
While media depict the realities of society, when it comes to gender relations, they also help construct it by reinforc¬ing misperceptions, imbalances, and perceived differences between women and men. Who is seen and heard in the news? Who writes and produces the news and from what perspectives? How do newsrooms operate? How are women and men journalists taught their craft regarding media ethics and accountability? This class is dedicated to appreciate the relevance of Monitoring and to work hands-on with a Media Monitoring Tool developed by the project Rewriting the Story in AGEMI.

Week 4 - Addressing gender inequalities in communicative environments: Beijing+30 and the UN Global Digital Compact
Day 1 - Policy interventions and current developments: towards gender(un)equal futures?
The formulation and adoption of regulatory measures for the media – at organisational, national, or supranational level – can be seen as an explicit commitment to overcome gender inequalities. In a situation where it is clear that progress is not a linear process and set¬backs are always a possibility, policy measures can contribute to guarantee sustainability of positive achievements and more equal gender relations over time. The course will address this topic building on Padovani (2020, 2021) and the AGEMI Platform (Learning Unit 9).
Day 2 - Advocacy initiatives and good practices from around the world
Preparing to celebrate thirty years since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995-2025) a number of civil society organization and transnational networks are mobilizing to support a full recognition of the need to involved women and girls, as well as marginalized communities in communication ecosystems. The course will map out meaningful and innovative initiatives, including proposals for a New Gender Deal in media and Communication (GAMAG 2023) and the Declaration of Feminist Digital Justice (ItforChange and DAWN 2023); also reference will be made to the AGEMI Platform (Learning Unit 10).

During the course on occasions international experts will be invited to participate and contribute to class discussions connecting from remote (depending on class topics and invitees availability) or themed video recorded lectures will be proposed to activate class discussion.
Plan are being made to meet the coordinator of the EU-funded project “Feminist movements revitalizing democracy in Europe” (FIERCE).
Towards the end of the course a hybrid session will be organized, to connect students with partners from the Rewriting the Story project so as to share their experience with experts and media professionals, and possibly with other students who’ve participated in the project’s activities.

Learning outcomes
Through the course students will acquire:
● knowledge about scholarly works and scholarly communities that are engaged with the course topics, with contributions from different contexts, including theoretical and practice oriented;
● a good understanding of the nexus between media/communication development and democratic principles of access, inclusion, participation, pluralism, and equality;
● elements to support critical analysis of contemporary communication realities, such as analytical frameworks and methodological competences (particularly related to media monitoring) for investigating different realities that characterise knowledge and communication societies in relation to course topics;
● a grounded gender-aware perspective through which communication processes and practices can be understood, particularly about stereotyped, discriminatory, unbalanced representation of women and men in politics and public life, why this affects women disproportionately, and related implications and possible ways of addressing building on good practices;
● awareness of what journalists and media companies should know, be aware and commit to as far as their responsibilities and roles in contrasting/reproducing unequal representation of women and men in politics.

Transversal competences will also be acquired through interactive learning, engagement with peers, group work, international exchanges:
● autonomous judgement
● critical rethinking of knowledge development and sharing
● communication abilities & public speaking
● collaborative modes for the production of new knowledge

The focus on overcoming stereotypes in representing women in politics coverage would contribute to developing students’ critical thinking towards active citizenship. In fact, the year 2024 has been defined as “an exceptional electoral year”, with over 70 countries holding elections, from the European parliament to Mexico, to India and across the world region. In this context understanding media roles - and gender inequalities therein - is crucial. Through course topics and activities, students will be equipped to perform their role as active citizens in their own context and globally, by adopting a specific, gender-sensitive lenses to observe, analyse and intervene in political spaces, with a focus on pluralism and diversity in political competition and in the political realm.

Required preliminary knowledge
No specific preliminary knowledge is required. Students are expected to be ready to engage in multi-vocal discussions, open to novel topics and innovative modalities in teaching. They should have basic understanding concerning the transformation, role and social implications of communication technologies; curiosity for the global dimension of communication phenomena; interest in research work, including group work, and critical discussions. Good knowledge of the English language is also required.
The course will offer a broad perspective of the nexus between gender, media, politics in a comparative perspective with a global outlook: this will allow students from different disciplinary and geocultural background to follow the classes, acquire new knowledge but also to share in class their experiences and knowledge.
No specific preliminary knowledge is required, but before the start of in-presence classes, students are invited to start exploring resources that are accessible on the AGEMI Platform, by watching video lectures from Learning Unit 2 dedicated to “Issues in gender, representation and news” . This will provide students with the basic understanding of the course topics and introduce elements which will be further discussed in class.

Teaching and evaluation methods
The course addresses issues of un/equal opportunities and inequalities in media (both content and structures), drawing from recent international collaborative projects – beside the the Rewriting the Story. Gender, Media and Politics, also the Media for Democracy Monitor, the Advancing Gender Equality in Media Industries, the Global Media Monitoring Project the GEM Project Comparing gender and media equality across the globe.
Class presentations and activities will build on such projects.

Activities will include:

● presentations by the teacher
● readings, screening videos and class discussions
● interactive sessions (using online learning tools or physical cards, learning dices etc)
● group activities and project work
● use of Media Monitoring Tool to assess and analyse news stories
● use of Guide to gender-aware reporting to develop news texts
● research-to-advocacy design and planning: building on the acquired knowledge, students will be invited to develop (small) projects so as to contribute to the collection hosted in the Platform. Thus students will have an opportunity to contribute in making change in news media practices, languages and approaches to foster women's engagement in politics and produce dignified accounts of women political leadership.

All activities carried out during the course constitute elements of evaluation and contribute to the final grade.

The final evaluation takes into consideration:
● the overall participation of students in class discussions and activities (30%);
● individual reading and writing assignments and (30%);
● commitment, autonomy and creativity in conducting themed group research work (design, elaboration and presentation of group work activities) making use of the knowledge and transversal competence acquired during the course (40%).

Tomaz, T. & Trappel, J. (2021). "Democracy at stake: On the need of news media monitoring". In J. Trappel & T. Tomaz (Eds.), Success and failure in news media performance. Comparative analysis in the Media for Democracy Monitor 2021. Gothenburg: Nordicom, University of Gothenburg.
Padovani, C. (2023). “Gender Dimensions of Communication Governance. Perspectives, Principles, and Practices”. In M. Gallagher and A. Vega Montiel (Eds.), The Handbook of Gender, Communication, and Women’s Human Rights. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Padovani, C., Belluati, M., Karadimitriou, A., Horz-Ishak, C., Baroni, A. (2022). “Gender inequalities in and through the media: a threat to democracy?”. In Josef Trappel & Tales Tomaz (eds) Success and Failure in News Media Performance: Comparative Analysis in the Media for Democracy Monitor 2021. Gothenburg: Nordicom, University of Gothenburg.
Padovani, C. (2020). “Gender and Media Policy”. In Ross, K. (Editor-in-Chief), Bachmann, I., Cardo, V., Moorti, S. & Scarcelli, M. (Associate Editors) The International Encyclopedia of Gender, Media, and Communication. JohnWiley & Sons.
Ross, K., Jansen, M. & Bürger, T. (2020). “The media world versus the real world of women and political representation: Questioning differences and struggling for answers”. In M. Djerf-Pierre, & M. Edström (Eds.), Comparing gender and media equality across the globe: A cross-national study of the qualities, causes, and consequences of gender equality in and through the news media. Gothenburg: Nordicom, University of Gothenburg.

Further readings, video and learning resources will be accessed through themed sections in the AGEMI Platform and will be proposed by the teacher following class discussions and emerging interests.

Dates and description of the Virtual Component
Virtual activities will comprise online synchronous and asynchronous activities. Two 1,5 hr sessions will be held online (zoom) before the start of in-presence classes:
23 July 2024 (13.30 – 15.00 CET) - during the first session, the course will be introduced, teacher and students will introduce themselves through a set of interactive actions (possibly through Wooclap and other applications) and groups will be arranged in breakout rooms to carry out activities in preparation for class discussions.
30 July 2024 (13.30 – 15.00 CET) - during the second session, students will be organized in groups to carry out a first exercise: search for news stories concerning women and men politicians and/or from their countries’s media outlets so as to collect and organize materials to be used during the course.


Last updated: April 5, 2024


Isola di San Servolo
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phone: +39 041 2719511
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