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New Study Shows Girls Experience more Censorship than Boys in Student Media

According to a recent study authored by two KU professors, girls are censored significantly more often than their male peers in scholastic journalism.

Associate professor of journalism Genelle Belmas and assistant professor Peter Bobkowski co-authored the study, showing that female student journalists are almost twice as likely to not report on a topic due to self censorship, or censorship from school administration.

“We knew anecdotally rom many, many reports from young women that the amount of censorship went up if you were a girl,” said Belmas. “We didn’t have any hard data for this up until Dr. Bobkowski and I did this research.”

Of the 461 high school student journalists interviewed for the study, 53% of girls said they had self censored in anticipation of a negative reaction, while only 27 percent of boys said the same.

41 percent of girls said they had been told not to discuss or report on something in student media, while only 28 percent of boys said the same. Belmas said reducing censorship for girls in particular is very important, but making it so both genders are equally low in censorship is the ideal endgame.

“I don’t want to bring the girls down to what the boys are I want them to have no censorship at all. I want everybody to be equal in terms of censorship,” said Belmas.

According to Belmas, it’s up to the administrators, teachers, and schools to do a better job when it comes to not censoring student media, regardless of gender.

“We need to do better,” said Belmas. “We need to do better by both our boys and our girls but now that we know that there’s an issue, what we’d like to do is make it clear to administrators that they need to watch what they’re doing. Again, our goal ideally is to get to no censorship.”

Professor Belmas and professor Bobkowski plan to expand the study to more students in the future, potentially through KU via the KSPA events that take place in Lawrence.