Dr. Mullin Researches Impact of Student Media on Careers

By Caitlin Burns | March 10, 2021


By Nikolai Kachuyevski ’21

Dr. Chris Mullin ’20EdD, assistant professor of Media and Communication, wanted to know how student experience at collegiate papers and magazines impact career trajectories for women in media. She wondered if there was a link between this experience and the percentage of newsrooms around the world that are led by women, which, according to the Reuters Institute, sits as less than 25 percent. 

As part of her doctoral thesis in Arcadia’s Educational Leadership program, Dr. Mullin studied a student-run magazine at an east coast University as a point of interest in the research and focused on the magazine’s impact on students’ ability to get a job and how well the experience had prepared them for career success. 

“One of the things that always really bugged me in higher education is that, after students graduate, entry-level jobs want one to two years experience,” said Dr. Mullin. “How is that possible? You can get an internship, but most internships aren’t paid and that’s a huge disadvantage to students who simply can’t afford to work for free.”

For Dr. Mullin, it was important to showcase not only the benefits for students to “learn by doing,” but also the disparity between men and women in leadership positions in the media and public relations fields.

“What I found interesting was that, while women make up a large part of the public relations field and the television, media, and mass entertainment industries, they make up a very small portion of the leadership positions,” said Dr. Mullin. “So my focus was really talking to students who held a leadership position at the magazine while they were in college, either as editor-in-chief or section editors. All 12 people whom I interviewed noted that that leadership experience helped them gain the confidence that they took to the workforce—a workforce that is, in a lot of ways, dominated by men.” 

In addition to studying gender gaps in the media, Dr. Mullin’s Doctorate in Educational Leadership program also explored diversity inclusion in a variety of classroom and educational settings. Typically, the Education Leadership program is designed for those who want to become principals of elementary, middle, and high schools. However, after Dr. Mullin spoke with program director Dr. Peggy Hickman, she was assured that this program could be molded into something that better suited her. 

“I could sort of mold it to what I wanted to do, which was really explore further how to be a better teacher in a higher education setting while also refining my research skills,” said Dr. Mullin. “It really opened my eyes in a lot of ways to a lot of different things. It’s made me more aware, cognizant of everybody having different backgrounds, different points of view. I learned to embrace all of that and not see it as something that, as a teacher, is an obstacle that I have to solve in a particular classroom, but look at it as this amazing opportunity to learn more about different people.”