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Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D.

Senior Scholar

Jean Kilbourne is internationally recognized for her pioneering work on the image of women in advertising and for her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. In the late 1960s she began her exploration of the connection between advertising and several public health issues, including violence against women, eating disorders, and addiction, and launched a movement to promote media literacy as a way to prevent these problems. A radical and original idea at the time, this approach is now mainstream and an integral part of most prevention programs.

She is the co-author of So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids (Ballantine, 2008). Her earlier book Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel (Simon & Schuster, 2000) was called by Publishers Weekly “a profound work that is required reading for informed consumers.” It won the Distinguished Publication award from the Association for Women in Psychology.

The creator of the renowned Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women film series, she has made several other films, including Spin the Bottle, Deadly Persuasion, and Slim Hopes. She was profiled in Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975 and featured in Makers: Women Who Made America, a PBS documentary on the history of the second wave of the women’s movement.

Dr. Kilbourne has served as an advisor to two Surgeons General and has testified for the U.S. Congress. She received her B.A. from Wellesley College, and her M.Ed. and Ed.D from Boston University. She has received many awards, including the Lecturer of the Year award from the National Association for Campus Activities. The presenter of an award from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists said, “No one in the world has done more to improve the image of women in the media than Jean Kilbourne.”