Linda Steiner, a feminist researcher and professor at the journalism college, has received the Teresa Award for the Advancement of Feminist Scholarship, an international award recognizing significant contributions to feminist academia and research.
Steiner received the award from the International Communication Association’s Feminist Scholarship Division, the premier association of researchers of communication, according to Dafna Lemish, who nominated Steiner and was the first woman to receive the award.
The annual award is given to a scholar in media studies who has made a lasting impact on research and scholarship in the field of feminist academia, Lemish said.
Part of this work includes mentoring other women in the field, said Linda Aldoory, the arts and humanities college’s Associate dean for research and programming. Steiner both inspired and served as a mentor for Aldoory.
She believes Steiner’s unconditional support of other women demonstrates the kind of “true feminist” Steiner is.
“Her greatest role is as mentor — she has served for hundreds of women as mentor, telling us not to give up,” Aldoory said.
“There’s this notion that someone is going to wake up and notice that, ‘I’ve been faking it, I’m not meant to be here.’ Linda as a mentor, that’s what she challenged. She tells her mentees, ‘You’re not a fake, you’re amazing and you’re meant to be here.'”
Steiner is being recognized for her work on the role and representation of women in the media. Much of her research has to do with the opportunities and constraints for women journalists, as well as representation of women in news content, she said.
Issues such as sexual harassment and racial discrimination have recently found their way into her work. Steiner said she believes feminist research has evolved since the time she entered the field and has become a more open place for intersectional studies, or study of the intersection of different identities.
She said she thinks intersectionality plays a large role in feminism itself, as well as evaluating other problems, such as the #MeToo movement.
The #MeToo movement has inspired discussion on the campus and has helped inspire legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly to mandate sexual assault prevention education in high schools. Steiner said she believes there will be a shift in gender relations in the workplace as a result of the movement.
“It needs to be underscored that the original women whose victimization got noticed were powerful women,” Steiner said. “They were beautiful, often white actors in Hollywood, but now the #MeToo movement has inspired women from a variety of domains to speak about sexual harassment.”
Steiner was able to win the Teresa Award because of her ability to approach studies and see issues differently, Lemish said
“[Steiner] is a very original thinker. She asks questions that are challenging and that are honest,” she said.
Aldoory agreed, and has found this aspect of Steiner’s work to be the most inspiring. As a doctoral student who discovered feminist theory, Aldoory said she read her work.
“She started doing this women studies feminism work really early in her career, and it was so different from a lot of other stuff,” Aldoory said. “It was clear and direct and compelling and from that moment on I became basically a research groupie, and I just followed her and her work.”
While Steiner might challenge current power structures and gender dynamics, she said she hopes to leave the world with a little more clarity on these societal norms.
“I hope I show patterns of oppression and patterns of constraints in equity in a way that also points to possibilities for resistance and transformation,” Steiner said. “What feminist research adds up to all together is research that shows how social political and economic changes can be made so that some [minority group] is not unable to succeed in society.”