Putting "women" in the WSJ

The Wall Street Journal Online launches a section, targeted at women, called Journal Women.

By Catherine Price
May 22, 2008 11:20PM (UTC)
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We just found out about a new women-centered site that you might love or hate (or love to hate -- with a passion so strong that you're compelled to read it daily and then post incessant vitriolic comments on its message boards): Journal Women, brought to you by the Wall Street Journal.

According to Editor and Publisher, the site's press release describes it as "a place where ambitious professional and executive women can come together to read and share ideas on work, family and the intersection of the two." Two established Journal writers, Carol Hymowitz and Sue Shellenbarger, will contribute columns to Journal Women, and it will have a blog -- "The Juggle" -- about "the trade-offs of balancing work and family life." There'll also be a section called "Front Lines," with daily news briefs on women in business and other women's issues. The executive editor of the Wall Street Journal Online, Alan Murray, said that "experience has shown us that there are a lot of business and professional women out there who crave not just fashion and beauty advice, but an intelligent news-oriented community where they can share experiences and swap ideas."


Today's selections include a story about employers' reluctance to allow workers flexibility in their work schedules (to accommodate parenthood), a discussion of whether it's appropriate to criticize your boss in public, and a profile of Lehman CFO Erin Callan. OK, those all seem consistent with the site's purpose. But then there are other stories: a piece called "Putting an End to Mindless Munching" featuring a photograph of Hillary Clinton eating something on the campaign trail, an article about how fashion designer Reem Acra got hooked on one-on-one dance classes, and a whole section on "Style and Dress."

Like other recently launched women-focused sites, this one leaves me with questions. In principle, I like the idea of a site for businesswomen, since the default gender in the business world is still male. As more women enter business, it makes sense to give them -- and subjects relevant to them -- coverage. But then there's the part of me that dislikes the fact that such news has to be relegated to a women's section of the paper. (Before you accuse me of throwing stones out of my glass house, I should say that I have the same issue with Broadsheet.) Why can't the news be gender neutral? And then, of course, is the question of why a site devoted to business has decided to include a whole section on style, not to mention an article about décolletage at a work dinner, and a post about whether it's a good idea to send photos of your baby to co-workers. Perhaps those are all worthy topics in their own right (if not ones in which I'm particularly interested), but put in context, they seem a bit out of place. Who reads the Wall Street Journal for snacking tips?

But then again, I'm not a businesswoman, and for all I know, there might be a real need for a forum in which to discuss the appropriate necklines for business dinners. Point being, it'll be interesting to see how Journal Women develops, what topics it covers and what the response is. Already, at least this much is clear: It's better than AOL Living.

Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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