Is journalism still gender biased today?
Admittedly within recent years, the diversity and gender equality within journalism has increased. However within journalism today, women are still being supressed within their writing and reporting capabilities and abilities. This unjust treatment of women has dated since the beginning of journalism, and the struggle continues for women’s voices to be heard within the media. If news and media is supposedly a reflection of society, then shouldn’t journalism be portraying gender equality as a fundamental human right?
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNESCO and other United Nations agencies all seemingly promote women within journalism, however nowhere in the world so far has total gender quality.
“We still have a long way to go.” Says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. “Women are still severely hampered by discrimination, lack of resources and economic opportunities, by limited access to decision-making and by gender-biased violence.”
Within the 2016 Press Awards, the nominees were majority white men. A set of prizes rewarding individual journalists for their work over 2016, unveiled a shortlist featuring 18% women, and a similarly low number of ethnic minorities. There were also 5 categories within these Press Awards that featured no women nominees at all.
So, how far have women developed within journalism since the millennium? According to a UNESCO report, the proportion of women newspaper reporters worldwide rose from just 26% to 29%. Female television reporters were statistically not much better, accounting for 42% compared with 36% in 2000. Meanwhile, only 32% of ‘hard’ news was written or covered by women. Women were more often found reporting of ‘soft’ subjects, such as social issues, the family, arts or living. It was also found that men often had the opportunity to interview the leading individual of their reported story, whilst women were expected to just support the wives. Something had to change. Within a conducted interview regarding women in journalism, Richard Fletcher stated his disagreement within the ways that women had been treated within the field.
“I am white, middle-class and male — it just depresses me. And I also think it affects our coverage.” — Richard Fletcher, Business Editor of The Times
Wanting to create a significant change within these shocking statistics, in April 2018, BBC launched its 50:50 challenge. This campaign aimed for an equal number of male and female expert contributors on-air and online. A year later, a survey showed that nearly three-quarters of BBC news and current affairs/topical programmes had an equal number of male and female expert contributors. One of the greatest challenges facing journalism today, is to resist the culture of casual stereotyping in our everyday work. Gender equality within journalism is an apparent issue, and doing something about it will proceed to change previous ways.
“Women are marginalised in the news both in the content of the jobs they do and in the opportunities they have to make their way in the profession. They are even marginalised in the unions that represent them.” — Aidan White, Getting the Balance Right: Gender Equality in Journalism
“In a world where hard news is still mainly reported and presented by men, journalists need to stand up for gender equality. This equality is not just a women’s issue; everyone benefits from eliminating discrimination.” — Aidan White, Getting the Balance Right: Gender Equality in Journalism
Within White’s book, he continues to explain that in many countries the gender pay gap still exists. In most countries, the terms “sticky floors” and “glass ceilings” are used to describe how and why the gender pay gap increases with age, as women are overlooked for promotion in favour of male colleagues. Family unfriendly working practices such as inflexible working hours or penalising women for taking time out to raise children, all contribute to the pay gap.
“I do still think there’s an issue a problem for women in the media- and by that I mean advertising as well as editorial media. I’m hoping that in 10 years time that we will have switched around and women will have great opportunities. But I think there is a big issue with that.” — Andrew Porter, former Daily Telegraph Political Editor
Although there are still discussions regarding gender equality, new media and young media has definitely addressed topics such as feminism and has further appointed female roles. An example of this female inclusion would be the platform Buzzfeed, as they have noticeably employed more women reporters.
There has also been gender equality movements and trends circling social media, in order to raise awareness. Below is a screenshot promoting #WorldPressFreedomDay2020, which took place on May 3 last year, celebrating the development of women and journalism.
Due to the increasing appreciation for women journalists, the future of news and media ultimately relies on more diverse stories and the diversity of the people who report. There are more stories now regarding women’s rights, which further raises awareness to gender inequality. Bottom-line, people are beginning to realise and make changes, giving women a voice. The world ultimately benefits from these untold stories of women and this challenges the previous ‘easy’ ways of reporting. The new future of journalism and women makes the world a more interesting place.
Are you with me?