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Home CT News CT Mirror Subtle gender bias in the story about the new PURA leader

Subtle gender bias in the story about the new PURA leader

I am writing in regard to the article, “A new voice at PURA at a pivotal time in energy oversight,” published on Aug. 26.

As a ratepayer in Connecticut, I was glad to learn that our state’s top regulator is standing up for the residents of the state. However, I was disappointed at the language used to describe Chairman Marissa Gillett in the article.

Calling her a “young woman” undermines her authority. She is a lawyer with nearly a decade of experience with energy policy, utility regulation and grid modernization, according to her biography on PURA’s website.

The language and framing used in this article leaves readers with the impression that we should be surprised by Gillett’s ability to do her job. If this article were about a man in her position, I imagine that the author would not consider it unusual for the chairman to redefine a public role or challenge an institution.

We don’t wonder whether a working dad can successfully run a day-long virtual meeting from home. And we certainly would not expect a male official to “stay quiet” while performing his job.

Gender bias in reporting is often subtle, but it helps shape and perpetuate sexism that women experience in the workplace, at home, and on the campaign trail. If the language used in this profile would not “fit” an article about an accomplished male official, then it should not be used when reporting on a woman.

Melissa Meek lives in Milford.

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