Role of media in creating and breaking stereotypes

Friday, February 6th, 11:15-12 | MIT Media Lab

Media, including social media and advertising, represents tremendous platforms for connecting people, sharing information, and empowering voices across the globe. However, these channels can sometimes turn against women and other groups, such as when social media amplifies aggression against women or advertising promotes unhealthy or stereotyped ideals. What role does media have in creating and perpetuating stereotypes? What responsibility and scope does the industry have in redefining our associations, and what examples do we have of how this can be done? Join us for a discussion on the role that media plays in unconscious bias, and how these channels can become a force for good.


Julie Burton | President | Women's Media Center


Renata Mutis Black | Founder and Executive Director | Empowered by You, Seven Bar Foundation
Soraya Chemaly | Feminist Writer, Critic and Activist
Christina Hsu | Marketing Consultant | Former CMO, JumpStart | Former Sr. Director, Marketing, Nickelodeon


Renata Mutis Black | Founder and Executive Director | Empowered by You, Seven Bar Foundation

Renata Mutis Black, the founder of Seven Bar Foundation and Empowered By You, has created a new blueprint for philanthropy. Her mission is to develop sustainable business models that generate consistent revenue streams to fuel microfinance and drive social impact. 

Orphaned as a toddler, Black was raised in Miami by her Aunt. Alone, at age 15, she relocated to her native country, Colombia, where she discovered that a large portion of the population lived in extreme poverty. She realized she was witnessing what could have become her life and that she had been given her first break before she was old enough to know it. Black then made a commitment to give a “first break” to as many women as possible in honor of the chance that she was given as a child.

After completing a degree in Journalism and Psychology from The University of North Carolina, Black traveled to 12 countries throughout the world and discovered the local cultures through volunteer work. However, it was the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that refined Black's vision about how she could empower women. While in India to help rebuild villages shattered by the catastrophic flooding, she was approached by a woman who inspired her. “She was strong-voiced, with piercing eyes,” recalls Black, “and she said to me - I donʼt want your money, I want you to teach me how to make it myself, will you?” This poignant request ignited her to start studying microfinance and its impact on impoverished communities under the teachings of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh. Renata was further motivated by the fact that 60% of the women in the world live on less than $1 a day.

Black returned to India in 2005 to establish a grassroots microfinance program with 800 local women. During this time she created Seven Bar Foundation, a 501(c) 3, whose mission is to provide women with loans that enable them to start or grow their own small businesses, via microfinance. Through this experience Black witnessed how a loan of $50 could empower a woman to start her own business, cut the cycle of poverty for her children and provide another woman with the same opportunity once the loan was repaid.

Having experienced Indian culture for two years, Black developed a deep understanding of the respect sari-covered women held for something as intimate as their lingerie. With this appreciation, Black returned to the states where she saw the need for a societal paradigm shift - to reposition lingerie as a tool of empowerment as opposed to one of seduction. To raise funds for microfinance loans and spread the message of female empowerment, Black created and trademarked luxury lingerie shows in the top 15 cities featuring designers such as Agent Provocateur, Atsuko Kudo and Carine Gilson. Thus far, Lingerie Miami, Lingerie New York and Lingerie London have garnered over four billion media impressions and the support of celebrities like Eva Longoria and Sofia Vergara.

In 2012, Black launched Empowered By You, a lingerie brand with the ethos ʻWhat Empowers You, Empowers Women Everywhere.ʼ The lingerie is produced in Sri Lanka at a facility that has won UN Awards for championing the UN’s Women Empowerment Principals. 20% of all net profits generated from sales of the high-tech panties are donated to the Seven Bar Foundation. Often referred to as the Toms Shoes of lingerie, each Empowered By You package includes an insert with a personal testimonial from a woman who has received a loan from the Seven Bar Foundation to start her own business.

Renata is an expert in female entrepreneurship, women empowerment and paradigm shifts. She has spoken about female empowerment and women in business at numerous institutions, most recently at the United Nations and Harvard Business School. Deepak Chopra has dedicated a chapter to Renata in his book, "The Soul of Leadership." She writes a blog for the Huffington Post called, "Paradigm Shifters" and is featured as a MAKER on AOL.

Julie Burton | President | Women's Media Center

Julie Burton leads the Women’s Media Center in its efforts to create a level playing !eld for women and girls through media monitoring, training, advocacy, original content, and the promotion of women and girls as media experts. She is the Executive Producer of Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan on CBS and available on iTunes.

For more than a decade, she was on the frontlines of the women’s movement as the youngest CEO of a national pro-choice political action committee, Voters For Choice. She was the Founding Executive Director of Choice USA, and has worked to advance opportunities for women at leading advocacy organizations, including People For the American Way, Project Kid Smart, and the National Women’s Law Center. She has organized high pro!le concerts for choice with major artists like Pearl Jam, Bonnie Raitt, Indigo Girls and others. She produced a CD with Sony Music — Mary Had A Little Amp — featuring songs by Madonna, Maroon 5, Dixie Chicks, R.E.M., Graham Nash and others to raise visibility for preschool education. Early in her career, she was a recipient of the Women’s Information Network’s “Young Woman of Achievement Award”
and was named “A Rising Star” by Campaigns and Elections Magazine.

A former appointee to the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, she serves on the Women’s Leadership Board of the Harvard Kennedy School Women and Public Policy Program, on the Advisory Board of Women@Paley at the Paley Center for Media.

Soraya Chemaly | Feminist Writer, Critic and Activist




Soraya Chemaly is a feminist writer, critic and activist whose work focuses on women’s rights and the role of gender in politics, religion and popular culture.  She is a regular contributor to Salon, The Huffington Post, RHRealityCheck, Fem2.0, Role Reboot, Alternet and other media. Her writing also appears in The Guardian and CNN. She is a frequent radio and online commentator with Al-Jazeera, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC and Voice of Russia.  She speaks frequently on topics related to sexualized violence and media portrayals of gender.  Most recently, Ms. Chemaly was one of the primary organizers of a social media campaign to force Facebook to remove sexist and misogynistic content from its site in accordance to its guidelines on bullying, harassment and safety. The #FBrape campaign, widely covered in media, was positively noted in a New York Times editorial, and was described as “an historic turning point in the fight against gender based hate speech.  

Ms. Chemaly returned to feminist activism and writing, after a professional career in strategic planning in the data and technology fields. Between 2000 and 2008, Ms. Chemaly was president of a marketing consultancy.  Prior to establishing her own practice, Ms. Chemaly was Senior Vice President of Marketing at Dutch publishing company VNU’s pioneering marketing information company, Claritas, Inc., (now part of Nielsen, Inc.) Ms. Chemaly joined Claritas after several years as an executive with the Gannett Company, prior to which she was a writer and editor at various publications and a founding principle in an urban monthly magazine in Washington, DC.  Ms. Chemaly graduated from Georgetown University’s College of Arts and Sciences, where she founded that school’s feminist journal, The New Press, and attended Radcliffe College in Cambridge, MA for post-graduate studies. She is a member of the national board of Emerge America, an organization that trains democratic women to run for office and also sits on the advisory board of Secular Woman, the first national secular women’s organization in the country. She was the recipient of the 2013 Donna Allen Award for Feminist Advocacy.

Christina Hsu | Marketing Consultant | Former CMO, JumpStart | Former Sr. Director, Marketing, Nickelodeon

Christina Hsu is a seasoned marketing professional with experience marketing entertainment brands to children and families.  Most recently, Christina was Chief Marketing Officer at JumpStart, a leading educational game developer that publishes entertaining and award-winning mobile and web products for children.  She was responsible for all marketing, PR, community and partnership marketing efforts while building brand awareness for the growing JumpStart portfolio of products.  She led co-marketing efforts with partners such as DreamWorks Animation and the NFL.

Christina has an extensive background in digital media, gaming and entertainment.  Prior to joining JumpStart, Christina spent seven years at Nickelodeon Games Group where she led the brand marketing, integrated marketing and design teams for properties including: Monkey Quest, Petpet Park and Neopets.  She also worked on mobile game launches for hit properties such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Before Nickelodeon, Christina held various marketing, strategy and financial analysis positions at The Walt Disney Company, eBay and Lehman Brothers.  She holds a B.S. degree in Management Science from MIT and earned her MBA from Harvard Business School.