Although women regularly outnumber men in journalism programs, they represent only 41.7% of all U.S. newsrooms, according to the 2018 Diversity Survey by the ASNE.Why It’s Newsworthy: Women in journalism are making smaller gains in representation, equal pay and treatment than in the U.S. overall and some other fields.
For women of color, the numbers are even worse. In 2018, Black women made up only 3.45% of the journalism workforce. Physical representation is not the only kind that women struggle with in newsrooms. In 2019, the only areas where women’s reporting dominated were in the lifestyle, culture and entertainment, education and health sections.
In sports journalism, this disparity is even more evident. In print papers in 2019, only 10% of sports articles were written by women. This number went up to only 21% on online news sites. Maria Torres, a current Angels beat Reporter at The Los Angeles Times, felt passed over for male colleagues in past jobs, even when she was the beat reporter assigned to that topic.
“It was that kind of feeling of being kind of on the outside of the conversation. Two of the finest special sections that I was involved in, one of them, I don’t even know that I actually had a byline. My white male colleague, a very talented writer in his own right, that was the story that was in the newspaper, and I was not given an opportunity to write anything.”
Pay gaps between men and women also still exist in many of the U.S.’s largest newsrooms. For women like Jacqueline Gulledge, a former associate producer at CNN, a pay gap of about $35,000 is what eventually made her leave the company.
“I think it’s a double added on when you’re a minority woman because then the pay discrepancy, to me, stands out even more,” said Gulledge.
A common criticism in discussions around the pay gap is that women work less due to having children and family obligations. Work-life balance and having a family are often big issues for women in journalism and are the reason that some women leave. A 2015 study found the women experience high rates of burnout and reported higher rates of intentions to leave the field. And, 67% of women compared to 55% of men said they were uncertain if they would stay in journalism.
In the U.S., employers are required to give at least 12 weeks of job-protected maternity leave, but they are not required to pay you. A 2017 Poynter survey found that only two-thirds of journalism companies offer any paid maternity leave.
“I don’t think I ever saw a woman move up through higher levels in the company that had young children,” said Gulledge about her time at CNN.
In 2014, only three of the top 25 biggest U.S. daily papers had a woman as their top editor and only 30.8% of all news directors at television stations in 2014 were women. Vicki Michaelis, the director of Sports Media at UGA and a former sports reporter for 21 years, thinks more women are needed in leadership roles to keep women in journalism at all levels.
“When businesses contract, women often are the first to go. Either by choice or not, because someone’s not paying attention to their gender diversity and things like that. We have yet to reach that point where there are enough men in charge so that this stuff doesn’t happen,” said Michaelis.
Despite overall growth in women in the workforce in the U.S. since the 1980s, journalism is “flatlining” according to The Poynter Institute.
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