Global Challenges Academy

Staff Profile

Professor Karen Ross

Director of Research


Karen Ross is Professor of Gender and Media, the first such named chair in the UK. She joined Newcastle in 2016 from her previous position at Northumbria University and has previously held positions at the universities of Liverpool, Coventry, Gloucestershire and Birmingham. In 2015, she was Distinguished Visitor at the University of Alberta and has held visiting positions at Queens University Belfast and Stellenbosch University, South Africa: she was a Distinguished Visitor at Massy University (New Zealand) in 2018. She has recently contributed to the drafting of policy recommendations on combatting sexism for the Council of Europe (2017). She is currently a reviewer of Athena Swan charter award applications for the Government's Equality Challenge Unit (2017-).

On leaving school at 16, Karen trained to be a secretary before embracing higher education and studying for her first degree at Middlesex University (1st class hons) as a mature student. After graduation, she became a youth worker before the lure of further study beckoned and she was subsequently awarded a PhD in Race and Ethnic Relations from Warwick University in 1990.

Karen is currently the Principal Investigator on an EU-funded project (2017-2019) to Advance Gender Equality in Media Industries (AGEMI) and has recently completed an ESRC Impact Acclerator Account-funded project focusing on older women's challenge to media invisibility - see Research tab. She is also the mentor for a Marie Curie Fellow (Einat Lavy), 2018-2020.

Karen has authored and edited a large number of books on aspects of media and popular culture including on topics as diverse as the audience, racial stereotypes and television, and the media and the public. However, for the past twenty years, most of her scholarship has focused on the relationship between gender and media and more specifically, the relationship between gender, politics and news. Recent books include: Gender, Politics, News: A Game of Three Sides (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017); Gender Equality and the Media: A Challenge for Europe (edited, with Claudia Padovani) Taylor & Francis/Routledge (2016); A Handbook of Gender, Sex and Media (edited, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012); The Media and the Public (with Stephen Coleman, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010); and Gendered Media: Women, Men and Identity Politics (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009). She is currently  the general editor on the first ever Encyclopaedia of Gender Media and Communication for Wiley-Blackwell, to be published in 2020.  

Karen was the founding editor of the journal Communication, Culture & Critique and sits on the editorial boards of a number of leading journals. She is currently a member of the Advisory Board of Wiley-Blackwell’s sub-disciplinary encyclopaedia series. She was a member of REF 2014, serving as a panel member of UoA36 and is currently a panel member for UoA34 for REF2021. She is a member of the QAA and of the ESRC’s Peer Review College and was previously a member of the AHRC Peer Review College. She is an elected member of the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association and has been an executive member of both the International Communication Association and the International Association of Media and Communication Research. In 2013, she received the Teresa Award from the Feminist Scholarship Division of ICA in recognition of her contribution to feminist media scholarship and in 2017, she was made a Fellow of ICA. She has reviewed for EU programmes including FP6 and Marie Curie fellowships and has undertaken a variety of reviewing activities for international research councils including those in Israel, South Africa, Australia and Finland. She has been the external examiner for UG and PG programmes at a range of UK and international universities. She has supervised 19 research students to successful completion and examined 22 research theses, 18 at PhD, some of which have been international including Canada, Hungary, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Finland, Norway and Iceland.

Karen has written for a number of blog sites including The Conversation and has made numerous media appearances, mostly on radio including Woman’s Hour, TalkRadio, and most recently appeared on Deutsche Welle's news and current affairs programme (2017).  In 2014, she gave oral and written evidence to the House of Lords Inquiry into Women and Current Affairs News Broadcasting and some of her recommendations made their way into the published report of the Inquiry.

Roles and responsibilities

Director of Research, School of Arts and Cultures

Lead for Athena Swan, School of Arts and Cultures

Google Scholar: Click here.


Karen’s broad research interests are around the relationships between gender and media, both in terms of representation and production. Much of her work has focused on the particular relations between women politicians and journalists, exploring their views on their own representation and the forms of relationship they have cultivated with lobby and local journalists. Whilst much of her work has looked at traditional media such as TV, radio and the press, more recent research has also focused on facebook and twitter, exploring the ways in which women and men politicians narrate themselves through social media platforms.

Her book, Women, Politics, Media (2002) was the first full-length monograph to explore this particular set of relations outside the US context and the sequel to that foundational text, Gender, Politics, News (2017) both updates the first text but also adds in important contemporary dimensions including news coverage of women’s campaigns for the top job and the ways in which scandal and celebrity have become important aspects of political communication and political life. In 2013, Karen was given the Teresa Award by the Feminist Scholarship Division of the International Communication Association, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to advancing feminist media scholarship over a sustained period. In 2017, she was made a Fellow of the International Communication Association which acknowledged the contribution her scholarship has made to the field over several decades.

Karen is currently involved with a number of research projects. She is the PI for an EU-funded project (2017-2019) which seeks to enhance gender equality in media industries. The project includes the development of a web platform and bespoke teaching and learning materials aimed mostly at students but also media professionals. During 2016-18, she worked on a community-engagement project with older women to create images of themselves which confound normative social expectations of older age - see here for the project's FB page.  In 2017-18, she worked on a second community engagement project with older women, this time producing a short film on older women celebrating active life and you can see the film here.  She is currently (2017-18) working on analyses of the UK's General Election campaign 2017 (May) and New Zealand's GE campaign in the same year (November).  The focus of both projects is on both traditional and social media aspects of campaign communication.

She has also been working with the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) since it was established in 1995 and in 2015, she was the UK and European coordinator. She has already completed two reports on the UK and the European data and has published one article on the topic.  She is also the UK member of a European project on gender equality and the media (Swedish Research Council 2015-2019) and is one of the founding members of the Global Alliance for Gender and Media (GAMAG) which had its first General Assembly in Geneva in December 2015. Current smaller-scale projects in progress include the North East Women’s Activism Project, in collaboration with colleagues at Northumbria University, which seeks to celebrate the contribution of women in the North East of England to the region’s activist past history and present work..

PhD Supervision

Karen is currently supervising PhD students at Newcastle and Northumbria universities. Projects include: politicians’ use of twitter; gender and online games; and the use of social media by charities.  She welcomes new student projects in any of the following areas: gender and political communication, gender and news, women and news, social media as political communication.

An indicative list of my most recent publications is included under the 'Publications' tab. However, a full list can be found on my personal website here..


PhD supervision

Karen is currently supervising PhD students at Newcastle, Northumbria and Liverpool universities. Projects include: politicians’ use of twitter; gender and online games; political cartoons; and precarious labour in the creative industries. She welcomes new student project in any of the following areas: gender and political communication, gender and news, women and news, social media as political communication.

Postgraduate and Undergraduate Teaching

Karen teaches the second year module, MCH2088  Feminist Approaches to Media Analysis

Karen also provides dissertation supervision for MA and UG dissertations.