The media should more boldly and specifically showcase the nontraditional roles that females play, rather than repetitively portraying their stereotypical roles in society, experts say.
Nontraditional roles that should be showcased more in the media range from entrepreneurs to experts who speak on traditionally male-dominated topics, said Floris van Spengler, chief operating officer of RNW Media, an international organization based in the Netherlands whose goal is to empower young women and men to unleash their potential for social change.
In the Netherlands, girls and young women are well educated, but there is still an imbalance in the ratios of males and females at senior management level, he said.
However, women are increasingly moving up to senior management positions now and account for about 30 percent of such positions in the central government of the Netherlands, van Spengler said at the First Media and Women Cross-Sector Forum. The seminar, co-hosted by RNW Media and China Women's University, was held in Beijing on May 26 and 27.
Gender inequality is considered an important factor that hinders society's development, van Spengler said. The media, which is important in promoting social change, should play a bigger role in encouraging people's awareness of gender equality, he added.
Liu Liqun, president of China Women's University, said that to ensure gender equality, media could play important roles, such as increasing the public's awareness of gender equality, providing positive images of females and telling women's stories in a better way.
She said the university not only cultivates a large number of independent women, but also offers training to about 200 middle- and senior-level female officials from developing countries every year.
Tang Zhuli, director of UN Women China, said that media reports have a great influence on how people view themselves and others, and also increasingly play a role in gender equality. However, in mainstream media, stereotypical images of women are still widely promoted, for example, portraying men as the breadwinner and women as trapped in the household.
"In popular TV shows and commercials, men have to be rational and ambitious, while women have to be gentle, elegant and pretty," she said.
These stereotypes not only emphasize gender inequality, but also reinforce it by sending the images to the young generation, and the media should avoid this, she added.