Miglena Sternadori, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Journalism & Creative Media Industries for the College of Media and Communication, has won the 2023 Diversity in Journalism History Research Award for her submission of ‘The last invisible minority: Tropes and stigma in coverage of intersex people since 1752.' Sternadori was presented with the award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) for filling an important research gap pertaining to the intersex population and will be honored Sunday, August 6 in Washington D.C.
Sternadori's research addresses the questions pertaining to gender, sexuality, and social justice within media studies. She has also set herself apart from other researchers in this context through continuously authoring and co-authoring various articles and having her work appear in different academic journals.
Since receiving the high distinction of having her work recognized through the History Division's Diversity in Research, Sternadori continues to bring awareness to intersex people while also showing her dedication to CoMC.
“This award recognizes studying a group that has not been studied before— not in journalism history and also not in very many other fields,” said Sternadori. “This is a modified chapter of a book I'm writing about intersex people, news coverage of intersex traits within this population, and the effects of those sorts of narratives on the perpetuation of a self-stigma— this also includes social stigma but looks more at the effect of the self in terms of how people see themselves.”
As for her analysis, Sternadori discovered roughly 1.7% of people have a condition that falls under the umbrella of intersex disorders. She says some have embraced this identity, while others treat it as a disorder. She also found the term itself is what some do not like or want to be associated with.0
Sternadori prides herself in conducting research in such an understudied area and is hopeful it will bring a better understanding to what the intersex population is and why intersex conditions are more of a misconception in our society.
“People think that biological sex is truly man and woman,” said Sternadori. “It's much more complicated and everyone is on some sort of a spectrum of understanding that intersex people can have children— although most cannot— and their reproductive systems are not necessarily what they may look like on the outside. In this instance, for example, people are born and look like girls and during puberty, they could begin to look like boys. Chances are that everyone knows someone who is intersex but it's not something that's ever talked about.”
With the experience she has gained from her research focus, she wants to continue to leave an impact on CoMC and spread the knowledge she has gained on understudied groups to make others more cognizant.
“We live in a very essentialist society, and I'm greatly annoyed with conversations where people assume that women are from Venus and men are from Mars,” said Sternadori. “This is not at all accurate based on research. There are way more similarities between men and women and way more overlap than people realize. In social sciences, there's a ton of research on diversity and there have been strides in promoting it. The intersex group, on the other hand, is a group that should be treated more respectfully and be more recognized.”