Gender and the State of the Newsroom (Glass Ceiling; Mind Your Head)

It’s 2015.

Women are more empowered than ever.

‘Feminism’ no longer a word only said in private in fear of persecution.

There have been substantial improvements regarding the rights of women.

But why is it that in our newsrooms, females are still not being recognised as just as capable as their male counterparts?

In Australia we statistically have more female news reporters than men. However this isn’t actually as great as it may appear. Women in newsrooms are typically covering the more ‘soft’ news stories – the weather, lifestyle and celebrity gossip. These women are scrutinised daily by viewers for everything other than their journalistic capabilities. And interestingly, there are very few women in journalism in a leadership position.

Their clothes, their makeup, their hair seem to all be more important than how they do their jobs. This became really clear when Karl Stefanovic wore the same suit for an entire year on The Today Show. His year-long protest-prank was to make a comment against the double standards his female colleagues face.

When Googling, “Australian News Readers” I was prompted by these options

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 4.11.12 pm

So even though there is finally an equal number of females working in media, there is still a considerable difference between the types of news that the different sexes cover. Louise North attributes this inequality to the fact that women have long been denied from key editorial leadership roles in news organisations around the world. North states that a common obstacle to career progress (and therefore attaining leadership positions) reported by women journalists is the problem of male attitudes.
Similarly, Naomi Milgrom, (Owner of Sussan Retail Group) was quoted saying, “Women in leadership roles never come about spontaneously. It requires a culture that supports women. It only happens when leaders of companies create policies and initiatives to stimulate such a culture.”

So to rid the glass ceiling in journalism, there needs to be a conscious effort to promote women and to focus on their skills rather than their appearance.

It is very evident that there needs to be a massive change in newsrooms to put an end to the gender inequality present, and that this change is only going to come about with a conscious effort. Female journalists need to be seen and represented as more than their appearances, and the clothes that they wear.

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