Liza Gross

Liza Gross is Interim Executive Director of the International Women's Media Foundation, Washington, D.C.

Back in the eighteenth century, the Anglo Irish philosopher George Berkeley summarized his theory of "immaterialism'' in the following dictum: to be is to be perceived. It is safe to assume that the gender problematic was the furthest consideration from the good bishop's mind when he came up with this insight, but his philosophical epiphany aptly describes the plight of women worldwide when it comes to media coverage: they are either absent from the news, and so cannot be perceived since they are not there, or they are included within certain narrow parameters that limit a full perception of their societal contribution. This state of affairs varies globally, but in general women and girls are seldom featured in journalism as narrators of their own experience or as authoritative sources on any given topic. In addition, whenever they are featured, it is in stereotypical roles.