Why Do We Have More Female Scholars, But Few Public Intellectuals?


When I think of Dr. Brittney CooperJoan MorganDr. Melissa Harris-Perry, Dr. Tanisha FordDr. Treva Lindsey and Dr. Kaila Story, I imagine the intellectual ancestors smiling down on them. These women scholars are progressing public discourse through their academic work. Their scholarship ranges from hip-hop feminismto fashion as political resistance, but their influence within and outside of the confines of the academy makes their research accessible to those without advance-level degrees.

Though the ladies listed are members of a growing chorus of women intellectuals, a three-year study conducted in Canada found male professors outnumber female professors in media coverage and overall reach. Shari Graydon, former president of Media Action—a non-profit organization that encourages gender equity in media—presented her findings at the Worldviews conference in Toronto.

Graydon said there’s a 4-to-1 imbalance within the public intellectual tradition. Researchers examined the male-to-female ratio in major newspapers, radio programs and television talk shows. They found an extensive disparity between the voices represented through these outlets.

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