Gender in the media industry: Pay, challenges, and representation in the workplace
Commemorative dates and observances can be looked down on as tokenistic or meaningless, but sometimes it is helpful among the constant whirl of deadlines to have a mark in the calendar set to reflect on a particular issue.
Over the past few years International Women’s Day (IWD) has become quite an event, an opportunity to celebrate female friends and inspirations and reflect on extra barriers women may be facing in life and the workplace.
Medianet recently surveyed over a thousand journalists and PR professionals to get insights for our annual Media Landscape Reports, and as usual, several interesting gender related findings emerged, with many related to the representation and working conditions of women in media.
While the gender pay gap for journalists was still significant, one positive finding was that there had been a slight decrease since the previous years’ survey. Almost a third of male respondents (31%) who disclosed their pay said they earn more than $100,000 per year, compared to 20% of females (and 13% of non-binary journalists), which has increased from 16% in 2021.
This gender pay gap was reflected less among respondents from the PR industry, which tends to be more female dominated overall (71% of PR survey respondents were women).
Women also made up more than half of surveyed journalists (54%), however they were far less highly represented in higher management positions, such as chief-of-staffs, editors, or publishers, compared to men. They were also less represented in photojournalist or cameraperson, producer, presenter or announcer positions.
Abuse and harassment:
Female and non-binary journalists experienced significantly higher rates of burnout and abuse or harassment because of their media work, compared to males. Many of these respondents talked about the impact and emotional toll of online harassment, including threats and trolling on social media. Online facilitated violence is an issue UN Women are also seeking to address with this year’s IWD theme of “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”.
(Abuse and harassment of journalists by gender (Medianet 2023 Australian Media Landscape Report).
The broader issue: Diversity
Most likely, diverse hiring is where the solution for addressing many of the gender related workplace issues also lies.
Medianet asked journalists to identify ways that representation and support for people from diverse cultural backgrounds could be improved, with the overwhelming majority of responses suggesting that more diverse hiring is needed, particularly in management or board positions.
“Nearly every photojournalist in my city is a white male. This is not a coincidence or an accident. White men hire other white men above all other people. Additionally, editors most often choose images of white people over images that represent the actual diversity of Australia.” — Anonymous survey respondent.
Last IWD, I shared some insights on my experiences as a leader in the media industry. Mentorship and leadership from those higher up provided stepping stones for me to overcome some of the barriers I faced as a woman and second-generation immigrant throughout my career so far.
As I said last year, defying gender and cultural expectations requires courage, but also support from people of all genders as well as organisational structures and leadership that encourages diversity.
Medianet is proud of our focus on diversity, mentorship and representation, in a company where two thirds of our leadership roles are held by a diverse group of women who represent five different cultural backgrounds. While change will never happen overnight, we hope the findings to our 2024 Media Landscape survey once again represent another step in the right direction.