Founding mothers

Share on social media

Madres fundadoras

The field of communication theory has frequently silenced and forgotten women’s contributions to the discipline. The names of female researchers in the history of the discipline tend to remain in the margins of our main historiographies, even though their historical contributions to communication research have been highly significant.

Women from the first generation of female researchers in the field (those who developed their academic careers between the 1930s and the 1960s) are pivotal figures to the understanding of the intellectual history of the discipline. They are the “founding mothers” of communication research; figures such as Herta Herzog (Austria, 1910-2010), Hazel Gaudet (US, 1908-1975), Thelma Anderson (US, 1921-2012), Marjorie Fiske (US, 1914-1992), Hortense Powdermarker (US, 1896-1970), Else Frenkel-Brunswick (Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1908-1958), Mae Huettig (US, 1911-1996), Helen Hughes (US, 1903-1992), Rachel Powell o Mary Q. Innis (US, 1899-1972).

Their scientific production is a fundamental part of the functionalist, interpretive and critical perspectives that have studied communication. These women worked within some of the key intellectual contexts in the constitution and development of the discipline, such as the schools of Columbia, Toronto, Frankfurt or Birmingham.

Through critical revision of historic and referential texts, we propose a genealogy of distinguished female scholars from the first generation. By doing this, we intend to promote heterogeneity among the history of the field; a history that has been traditionally dominated by masculine figures and perspectives. Thus, we advocate for the inclusion of women’s histories and approaches to the discipline’s historiography as a way to avoid the biased readings of the history of the field in terms of gender. This is further developed in the following paper:

  • García-Jiménez, L. (2021). Aportaciones femeninas a las teorías de la comunicación: Una propuesta para la docencia y la ciencia. Anàlisi: Quaderns de Comunicació i Cultura, núm. extraordinari 2021. https://doi.org/10.5565/rev/analisi.3327

Share on social media

Other researchaers

Find out more about women researchers who may also be of interest to you.