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Can women make good media managers?

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It is an established fact that women are under-represented in the higher ranks of journalism and even at lower ranks.

Carolyn Kury de Castillo, a reporter for CICT-TV (Global TV in Calgary). (Photo)Robert Thivierge Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

They are not having equal place with men in the media when it comes to representation as News makers, experts or even commentators.

If at all they appear in the media reports or programmes, then there is high probability that they will be portrayed in a lowly image as celebrities or victims of an abuse.

Equally, practicing female journalist tend to be ‘restricted’ to covering issues that have to do with their female folks, e.g fashion, society issues, hardly do you see women equally

But the point of contention is identifying the real cause of this under-representation and whether it is justified.

Impediments:

So what are the factors militating against women in getting to peak position in journalism profession?

Although there is an improvement in the number of women joining the journalism profession across the globe in recent years with a number of them holding senior positions in print and broadcast media, there is an indication that there is still imbalance in senior decision-making and policy-making position between women and men in the media profession.

Different reasons are given for the problem but I summarised them in some bullet points below:

  • Management’s perception that women’s productivity decreases when they take on reproductive roles. In some countries, women are expected to play their traditional roles as wives and mothers and not work the hours that come with working in the media. Such pressure is also exerted on young women who are not encouraged to accept work challenges such as travelling to take up foreign assignments. The main objection to women taking up journalism as a profession in some countries is the late hours working involved in journalism and the fact that the job necessarily involves a lot of interaction with men!
  • Some employers in media organizations/media enterprises are reluctant to provide benefits such as extended maternity leave and flexible time arrangements. This sometimes forces women to seek employment elsewhere where such benefits could be provided.
  • Pigeonholing of women into covering only those “soft” beats that do not really count for the male decision-makers during promotion time.
  • Lack of women role models or mentors.
  • Sexual harassment in the work place.
  • Lack of confidence on the part of some women especially in taking on leadership positions in media organizations/media enterprises.
  • Ownership of numerous media organizations by men.
  • Women’s lack of funds to invest in media businesses.

The culture in television industry of getting rid of older women and hiring younger looking ladies as casters also contributes to the imbalances between men and women when it comes to holding position of authority in media organizations.

Capt. Ken Barrett, head of the Navy Diversity Directorate, speaks with Channel 8 News anchor Beverly Kirk. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The BBC recently came under heavy criticism from UK equality minister Harriet Harman on this.

Ms Harman told the BBC’s World This Weekend female newsreaders had to be 10 years younger than male equivalents.

She told the BBC that: “It’s essentially an old-fashioned attitude that thinks you can’t value the experience and wisdom of an older woman.”

Action:

Women should be given equal opportunity to make contribution at different cadre of the profession. They have some experiences acquired from difficulties they face in life that will help in shaping and enriching the impact they will make if they become decision makers in the media

Women journalists and women groups should be in the vanguard of championing their course and speak out against the perceived marginalization in appointments to higher-ranking positions in journalism.

So I believe having more women in the position of authority can and will reshape the way women are portrayed in the media.

Written by danmakaranta

January 9, 2010 at 6:11 am

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