Marguerite Higgins: An Examination of Legacy and Gender Bias
Murray, Peter Noel
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This study examined the historical legacy of journalist Marguerite Higgins. The core research question of this dissertation is whether the legacy of Higgins, as portrayed in history, accurately reflects the facts of her life. The thesis focuses on allegations in the literature regarding unethical and immoral behavior by Higgins as she pursued her career, and addresses the degree to which these allegations may have been influenced by gender bias. The word 'legacy,' as used in this dissertation, is defined as that which has been handed down from the past. This study examined archival material and analyzed information concerning Higgins' life by searching the collections of Higgins' papers and those of people who knew and worked with her during her career, as well as those of authors who wrote about her. The thesis then compared this information about Higgins obtained through primary research with the portrayal about Higgins that has been established over the years by scholars and other authors who have written about her since her death. The theoretical context of this study is the psychology of stereotypes and gender bias. The study considered whether the attitudes and behavior of Higgins' male peers might have been influenced by bias. The work of other authors has described discrimination against women journalists, including Higgins, by newspaper editors, for example, in their restriction of women to writing for the women's section of newspapers, and by the U.S. military in its efforts to prevent women from covering combat. This study focuses on more subtle forms of possible discrimination, the attitudes and behavior of her male colleagues. The study found inaccuracies in Higgins' historical legacy and determined that there were numerous gaps between information available in archival collections and the portrayal of her by authors who created the written record of her life.