Female journalists struggle for voice at newspapers

Climbing to the top of the corporate ladder is still challenging for female journalists. Ida B. Wells, Gloria Steinem, and Katharine Graham were trailblazers. Yet women are still underrepresented. The year is 2014 and the question is why?

 “More women than men enter journalism schools today, yet less than 1 percent of the top level employees in news media are women,” said Suzanne Franks, a professor of journalism at London City University, and author of Women in Journalism at a panel discussion.

The glass ceiling remains thick.

Think pink

Historically women were expected to write about “pink topics.” These topics include home, family, fashion, food, or women’s health. Franks admits that pink topics box women in, not allowing them to write about serious issues.

In 2010 a study of gender representation by news topics in 108 countries by the Global Media Monitoring Project found 59 percent of women wrote about family, while only 13 percent wrote about global economic partnerships.

Why are women still writing pink?

Copyright Global Media Monitoring Project

Copyright Global Media Monitoring Project

Male bias

Attitudes from the past are rooted in the modern framework of journalism.

Explanation of this issue is a 2012 article  written by Natalie Kitroeff in the New York Times.

“You don’t count what’s not right in front of you and what tends to be right in front of you are things that are the most like you and so you don’t necessarily look for new voices that may sound different,” said Gayle Lemmon, a fellow at the Council of Foreign relations.

News companies do not want to venture from familiarity. So what does it take to reverse the norm?

Moving forward

Started in 2008 by journalist Katie Orenstein, The OpEd Project pushes for progress. An op-ed is the page opposite of the editorial page, with feature articles or commentaries. The OpEd Project’s main goal is to have a broader range of voices on these pages.  They believe that female leadership allows the news world to become diversified.

Working with various organizations, the OpEd Project trains women to become leaders in journalism. Since OpEd started, newspapers saw a 6 percent increase in female representation.

Positive influence through organizations like the OpEd Project help women climb. However, the question  remains complicated for women who still can’t reach the top.

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