Researcher E.J. Graff debunks the ‘opt-out myth’ for women

April 17, 2007

April 17, 2007 — At a brown-bag lunch sponsored by the Shorenstein Center and the Women and Public Policy Program, E.J. Graff, a senior researcher at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, focused on debunking the “opt-out myth,” which refers to a woman’s decision to give up her career in favor of full-time motherhood.

She argued that the “moms go home” story line, which periodically re-emerges in the media as a new societal trend, is misleading and erases the struggles of most working Americans.

She was also highly critical of journalists’ — particularly women journalists’ — tendency to focus excessively on white, highly paid professional women for anecdotal evidence, and even more so for their using anecdotes to overshadow statistics.

Graff called this type of “my friends and me” coverage both misrepresentative and irresponsible, asserting that such articles attempt to establish a trend that doesn’t actually exist.