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Few Women Cover Stories in Major Magazines

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Few women were the subject of cover stories in the major news and business magazines in 2006, based on my first annual "Women and Major Magazines Cover Stories Monitor."

As a journalist and media monitor, I had noticed the deficit of women as magazines cover stories subjects. But I decided to seriously analyze the publications, following a visit with my five-year-old nephew, to a news store. He immediately identified magazines and videos for "boys" or "girls," based solely on the cover photo or image.

This reminded me of the little boys in Iceland who asked, "Can a boy grow up to be president?" Vigdis Finnbogadottir served as the first woman president in Iceland, from 1980 to 1996. Consequently, these boys had never seen a male president.

News coverage of women influences how society perceives women and vice versa. Paris Hilton went to jail for 23 days and made big news. Ex-astronaut Lisa Nowak threatened her romantic rival and made big news. At the same time, astronaut Sunita Williams returned to earth in June, following a record 195-days in space. She also completed an unprecedented three space walks in nine days. Yet, she made little news.

Hence, I decided to examine the covers of the five major news and business magazines. Consulting with the publications, I defined the criteria to qualify as a "cover story" to be a woman featured in a full cover photo and to count the byline or photo line if at least one woman was credited.

Judy McGrath, Chairman and CEO, MTV Networks (February 20); Marissa Mayer, Google's first woman engineer (June 19), and Mary Minnick, former chief marketing officer, Coca-Cola (August 7), were featured in BusinessWeek cover stories.

Reese Witherspoon was among "The Celebrity 100" (July 3) and Ivanka Trump appeared in "The 400 Richest People in America" (October 9) cover stories in Forbes. The third annual "World's 100 Most Powerful Women" (September 18) article merited an inset at the top of the cover. The list noted 30 women in the top echelons of government, including No. 1, Angela Merkel, Chancellor, Germany; Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State, U.S.; Wu Yi, Vice premier, China; Michelle Bachelet, president, Chile; Helen Clark, prime minister, New Zealand; Tarja Halonen, president, Finland; and Gloria Arroya, president, Philippines. Additionally, 48 women chief executives or chairmen were cited. In the same issue, Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief, offered a "Regret" for publishing a piece entitled "Don't Marry Career Women" on Forbes.com.

Three new CEOs at PepsiCo, DAM and Kraft, were pictured on the cover of Fortune's ninth annual "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" (October 16) issue. Ellen Kullman, DuPont, was among the 12 "Star Power executives poised to become the next great CEOs" (February 6). Vera Wang was one of the six executives pictured in the "How I Work" cover story (May 20).

Caterina Fake, cofounder of Flickr (April 3); Katie Couric, CBS Evening News anchor (April 17); four of six "Giving Back Awards" winners (July 10); Patricia Dunn, former HP chairman (September 18); photographer Annie Leibovitz (October 2), and Sen. Hillary Clinton (December 25), were pictured on Newsweek covers. Plus, the 20 Powerful Women in the "Women & Leadership: The Next Generation" (September 25) cover story. "Rethinking "The Marriage Crunch" (June 5), a follow-up on Newsweek's 1986 (June 2) prediction that a single 40-year-old woman had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than getting married, reported "why we were wrong."

Many of the "World's 100 Most Influential People," (May 8), The Dixie Chicks (May 29) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (August 28), were pictured on Time's covers.

As the founder of the Women in History and Making History Today - 365-Days-A-Year Database, and author of A Woman's Book of Days, I daily record the achievements of women. Certainly, by identifying annual lists of "powerful" women, the magazines are acknowledging that women are making progress.

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In my national speaking platform, "A Woman's Place in the 21st Century," I connect women's history with the top news stories of the day. Women journalists today are benefiting from the discrimination lawsuits filed in the 1970s, when women were restricted from the writing, editorial and management positions. I'm planning a program to honor the women journalists responsible for the 2006 magazines cover stories in the fall.

Most importantly, I invite the public to join me in monitoring the 2007 magazines cover stories, to analyze the image of women in the media and in society. It's so easy, a child can do it!