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Pulitzer Prize Winning Women Have Better Qualifications Than Their Male Counterparts New Study Says

Today in Boobs

We were proud to report on two women who won the Pulitzer Prize this past year. Mary Schmich (pictured above), writer of the comic strip Brenda Starr, and Sara Ganim, who won for her work covering the sex abuse scandal at Penn State. While women are still in the minority when it comes to winning the coveted prize, a new study says they tend to have higher qualifications than men who make the cut. This is both good and bad. Read on to find out why.

The Pulitzer Prize is an award for exceptional work in journalism (both print and online), literature and musical composition but the study by Yong Volz, an assistant professor of journalism studies in the MU School of Journalism, and Francis Lee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong says women must meet a higher bar to get one than men.

“When facing a general gender disadvantage, women journalists have had to rely on greater resources than their male counterparts to achieve equal success,” Volz said. “Beyond talent and hard work, majoring in journalism, earning a graduate degree, a metropolitan upbringing, and employment with an elite publication such as the New York Times were among the things females needed to achieve this highest professional recognition. Male winners have not necessarily had to possess such high qualifications in order to win.”

The team looked at 113 female prize winners from 1917 to 2010 and will publish their full findings in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly but breaks down exactly what they looked at:

Volz divided the Pulitzer Prize winners into three historical periods: the exclusionary period (1917-1951), the compensational equality period (1952-1990), and the formal equality period (1991-2010). During the exclusionary period, only two prize winners were female, the first coming in 1937. Volz saw an increase of female winners after the 1950s through the 1980s, but those winners were more likely to have higher credentials compared to their male counterparts in order to compensate for gender disadvantage For women who did not possess additional qualifications, however, they had a better chance to win a Pulitzer only when working in teams and/or working on local reporting and in-depth reporting. Volz was somewhat encouraged to find that since 1991, there has been no significant statistical difference between male and female winners in their credentials. She says that these findings show gender differences in the type of awards also no longer exist.

So basically, the women who’ve won have had a better education, which is great, but they won because they’re education balanced out the “gender disadvantage.” At least the study says it’s not as much the case these days.


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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."