“Women remain under-represented in the media”- research shows

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A Glass Ceilings study, jointly conducted by Gender Links and SANEF and supported by the Media Development & Diversity Agency (MDDA), highlights the fact that, while the media industry is changing with more women in senior roles, inequality and inequity persist.

The findings show that gender discrimination remains problematic, with the long history of inequality between the sexes being the basis. Further, gender discrimination in newsrooms is about power with those in positions of authority usually the perpetrators and those in lower echelons, the victims.

In the countrywide research, a total of 203 journalists/editors filled out the perceptions survey, 41 companies collaborated with HR information in the institutional survey, 18 more on perception questionnaires (totalling 59 companies) providing data for over 10,054 staff, while 10 senior female journalists told their stories about their experiences of sexism in the newsroom.

The advent of social media has also brought about a new threat acutely felt by women in the media – that of cyber misogyny.  The research found that 30 percent of the female participants agreed that female journalists experienced cyber violence and only nine percent of the male participants agreed.

The research also found that unequal gender norms within a workplace can compromise productivity, with loss of morale resulting from, amongst others, jokes about an employee’s gender that imply inferiority or offensive jokes of a suggestive nature. Stereotypical views regarding gender can cause a person to be passed over for promotion due to gender. While this happens to both genders, managers more often pass over women for promotion due to preconceived notions about their roles and abilities.

“When we look at gender inequality in contemporary South Africa, we are confronted with a seemingly paradoxical situation. While South Africa’s transition to a liberal democracy has brought about a greater official recognition of gender rights, gender discrimination is still pervasive in almost every professional setting, despite many attempts at addressing gender inequality. Newsrooms and the media industry are no exception,” commented Zukiswa Potye, MDDA Acting Chief Executive Officer.

“Glass Ceilings: Women in South African media houses, 2018” can be downloaded from www.mdda.org.za.

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