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It’s Time to Address the Misogyny in the Media Industry

Women in journalism worldwide have long been overshadowed by their male counterparts. From the time of the first mass-produced newspapers and magazines to the age of radio, television, and online videos, men have dominated as writers, reporters, anchors, producers, and editors despite women’s efforts.

Journalism, for example, is one of the only American industries that hasn’t seen an increase in the number of women employed in the field since the 1970s. Only one-third of media industry employees are women, despite the fact that women make up more than two-thirds of journalism and mass communication graduates. Something just doesn’t add up.

“It’s puzzling,” The Washington Post’s media columnist Margaret Sullivan told Poynter. “Does it mean that women are coming out of these journalism programs and going into other fields, rather than hard-edge journalism? Maybe. Does it mean that newspapers are continuing to hire more men than women even though more women are available? Maybe.”

Women journalists in the United Kingdom are also struggling to be treated as equals with their male cohorts, especially in terms of pay. Several news outlets, such as The Daily Telegraph, Channel 4, and The Economist have recently revealed that their gender pay gap is more than double the national average of 14.1 percent.

Women employed in the media industry are also often subject to verbal abuse online and verbal and physical abuse in person, a fact that not only makes it difficult for them to do their jobs but is also totally unacceptable and unwarranted because it means they’re not being respected or taken seriously.

“It’s awful to say, but I think I’ve become so used to it that it’s water off a duck’s back,” Australian news anchor and podcaster Leigh Sales told Junkee after a random Twitter troll accused her of performing oral sex on an interviewee in order to get the best answers. “I’m not sure why, but I really don’t care what some moron with a name like @hairybuttlord51 thinks of me.”

Women journalists are sick of these inequities and abuses and are finding several badass ways to fight against them.

Last fall, the Australian organization Women in Media submitted an inquiry to the senate asking them to look into how Australian media professionals are cyberbullied.

“In the developing media environment, the impacts and exposure of online spaces has become more invasive and caustic,” the submission reads. “While many organisations have in-house policies in place, not enough attention is being given to revising legislation to reflect the criminal impacts that are caused by cyberbullying and online hate speech.”

Other groups are taking a less legislative approach to the tribulations of women in media through education and teamwork. 18 Palestinian women journalists recently attended a workshop in Ramallah that aimed to help them do just that. At the two-day seminar, they learned the skills and techniques they’d need to raise their voices and become more influential and respected in the industry. Some of these techniques included lobbying and advocacy tactics.

Still, other groups of women journalists are doing more to fight for themselves. Brazilian women recently took to social media to express themselves after one of their own, Bruna Dealtry, was kissed on the lips during a live broadcast. Dealtry shared her story on social media and prompted the spreading of #DeixaElaTrabalhar, or #LetHerWork.

“We had to scream at the top of our lungs to make it clear that this isn’t about one or two women,” ESPN journalist Gabriela Moreira, who helped create a video about the realities of sexual harassment as a journalist, said. “It’s about every woman working in sports journalism.”

But it goes further than just sports journalism. It’s about every woman working in every facet of journalism because it’s clear that this disrespect and inequality is present worldwide and in every type of reporting.

Even though these badass women are taking different routes toward gaining the respect they deserve, it seems that their efforts are helping the collective stand up for themselves. Hopefully, they will also be able to make change in the highly patriarchal mentality that has persisted in the media industry for decades.

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