20 February 2020 – (Re)presenting cover girls: Exploring female diversity in magazines

Our February event explores female diversity on magazine covers, in magazine publishing businesses themselves, and throughout the creative industries.

Magazines play an important role in perpetuating stereotypes that fail to represent society. This misrepresentation impacts on self-perception and helps to maintain socioeconomic disparities.

The event begins with a research-based talk presenting the shocking reality of misrepresentation in British magazines, and is followed by a panel session, inviting media practitioners and the public to contribute ideas, promote change and tackle this historical issue.

The Research:

Working together to compare British and Brazilian magazine titles, DrGabrielle Bittelbrun and Dr Ivana Ebel have looked at the under-representation of minorities over 5 years and more than 550 covers.

In Brazil the majority of the population is non-white, but magazines display more white females on their covers, reinforcing a colonised Eurocentric idealisation of beauty. The same ethnic disparity appears in the UK: their research found that flamingos feature more often on the cover pages than black women.

When cover girls represent any sort of diversity, they are often forced to act as ambassadors of a cause: large women must talk about health; non-white models must defy racism. This subsequently promotes thin, white, cisgender, able females as representatives of success and beauty.

The Panel:

We’ve invited five incredible women to talk about their experiences working in the creative industries, and their ideas for solutions to its lack of diversity.

Arusa Qureshi, Jamie Jefferson and Julie Farrell

Arusa Qureshi is Editor of The List and writes mostly about music, but has a particular interest in exploring diversity and accessibility within arts and culture. Her MSc Publishing postgraduate dissertation explored the role of women of colour in magazine publishing, and won the Postgraduate Dissertation prize at the 2017 London Book Fair International Excellence Awards.

Jamie Jefferson is Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Equator. As a transwoman, Jamie promotes diversity in the creative and digital industries through her place on the Inclusion & Diversity Council of BIMA. Passionate about improving prospects for young creative talent, she created Scotland’s first tech festival, Techaus, is on the governing board of Creative & Cultural Skills, and was instrumental in securing the government remit to launch The National College for Creative Industries.

Julie Farrell is a disabled writer and accessibility consultant writing fiction and narrative non-fiction, with disability, mental illness and equality as prominent themes across her work. Her young-adult novel, Fractal, received a special mention from the Write Mentor Children’s Novel Award 2019; and in 2018 she was runner-up for the Jericho-Marjacq Bursary for Under-Represented Voices.

Avril Gray and panel chairwoman Margaret Hughes

Avril Gray is Associate Professor of Publishing, Senior Fellow of Advance HE, and Head of Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University, a programme which she led to national accreditation. She also established MSc Magazine Publishing, the only course of its kind in Scotland. Her research interests include publishing pedagogy, reading cultures and communities, and inclusivity in publishing.

Dr Margaret Hughes led the development of the first degree in journalism at the University of the West of Scotland 17 years ago, and much of her work has been around the development of the curriculum and pedagogy in journalism education. She is also President of the Association for Journalism Education (AJE).

Need to Know

  • Date and Time: 20 February, 6pm for 6.30pm
  • Venue: Huge thanks to our Academic Partners Edinburgh Napier University for hosting us inRoom F12, Merchiston Campus, Edinburgh Napier University, 10 Colinton Road, Edinburgh EH10 5DT
  • Tickets: Tickets include a glass of wine and an exclusive poster designed for the event by award winning designer Eric Campbell. Bookings through Eventbrite
  • Charity Donations: We’re inviting attendees to bring female toiletries to the event to donate to a women’s aid charity, as gifts for women seeking shelter.
  • Bookings: Through Eventbrite

Event Partners

Many thanks to our event partners for their fantastic support