Journalists call for greater gender diversity to break the ‘glass newsroom’

New research reveals the UK’s Gender News Gap…

Launched this week, The Gender News Gap: The Impact of Inequality in Journalism & Media is a major new report on gender inequality in UK journalism. While 96% of journalists in the UK believe the media has a duty to reflect the diversity of the society it serves, the research reveals that fewer than one in five (19%) female journalists believe that there is adequate gender diversity in UK journalism.

Women in Journalism (WiJ), and global thought leadership consultancy, Man Bites Dog, carried out major new research on gender diversity in UK journalism. It examines the opinions of 1,200 UK journalists on gender diversity in journalism and its impact on female journalists, the media and society more broadly.

The research identifies some of the greatest challenges facing women in journalism right now, including access to the profession and career progression. Three quarters (73%) of UK journalists believe that career progression in journalism is more difficult for women than men. Leadership plays a significant role, with 70% of female journalists complaining that the most senior roles remain dominated by men. Male and female journalists also call out a ‘macho and intimidating culture’ creating a glass newsroom that excludes women from ‘high status’ journalism specialisms – such as hard news, business, finance and politics.

The report reveals that COVID-19 has compounded the challenges facing women in journalism, with women taking on greater domestic duties at the expense of their careers and mental health, and female journalists more likely to be furloughed during the pandemic.

Online harassment is a challenge for all UK journalists, with 4 in 10 (41%) journalists experiencing online hate in response to posting their work online and more than two-thirds (68%) of women in journalism hesitating before posting work online due to fear of online abuse. Perhaps as a result of this trolling, just over half (55%) of female journalists are comfortable with a public profile as a commentator on their specialist subject, compared with two-thirds (67%) of male journalists.

“Women in Journalism campaigned for almost 30 years for representative gender balance and diversity in our industry through our workshops, research and panel events. And yet our survey exposes the shocking truth that the gender gap in journalism stubbornly persists.

“The media is the prism through which the world sees itself. For it to be fair and accurate we need all kinds of people from a host of diverse backgrounds telling all sorts of stories. That makes great journalism.” – Women In Journalism Chair, Daily Mirror editor Alison Phillips

The Gender News Gap is itself a key contributor to the Gender Say Gap: the lack of female expert contributors consulted by the media. According to more than four in five women in journalism, female journalists and expert authorities highlight issues that would otherwise be underrepresented and 96% of UK journalists believe that visible female experts can inspire women to enter professions and sectors where they may be currently underrepresented. Despite this, just 28% of journalists report that their organisation has set targets to improve the representation of female expert contributors and less than a quarter (23%) of media directors participating in our survey said their organisation measures the gender or ethnic diversity of their journalist workforce.

“Equality in journalism is a critical foundation for a more equal society. Public opinion and policy are shaped by the people who decide which stories are told and who tells them.

“The Gender News Gap directly impacts how women and diverse communities are represented, how our experiences and concerns are reflected, and how we make our voices heard to create change. It is critical that the media industry takes action to address the gender gap in journalism and expert contributors if we are to have an equal say in the future of our society.” – Man Bites Dog’s Founder and CEO Claire Mason

You can download the full report at https://www.manbitesdog.com/the-gender-news-gap  

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