Gender Roles Still Stagnant in Journalism

By Erin Menardi

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Looking around the classrooms of the SJMC at Drake University, you would think that women in the professional journalism circuit are just as common as the air we breathe. In fact, in 2012, college students with journalism degrees were overwhelmingly female. But sadly, there is still a noticeably large gap in the number of women represented in journalism positions compared to their male counterparts. In April of this year, a study found that men still retain 63% of the bylines held by major news corporations in America across nearly all media platforms. In a day and age where gender equality and opportunity is at the forefront of many issues, women still are receiving less than their share of the spotlight.

Photo courtesy of Upworthy

Photo courtesy of upworthy.com

Many women are still stuck writing “pink topics”: family, food, furniture and fashion. Is it simply because no one else volunteers to cover such topics, or is there still a standing sexism that delegates women to be the ones to write about the more domestic stories?

While there are no real solutions to this issue, its recognition has spurred reaction from several companies and news networks across the country. Employers are beginning to see the need to hire more females to their staff, and while the battle for equal representation still has much progress to make, support for feminists movements have brought it to light.

So what do you think? For a field that is involved in the coverage of progressive thinking and liberal issues, why has authority remained in the hands of men for so long? How can women finally be given equal representation in the media?

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7 responses to “Gender Roles Still Stagnant in Journalism

  1. Like you said, it’s interesting to see these statistics based on the journalism classes here at Drake! I think, or at least I hope, it’s something that might be changing. Looking at the big names in journalism today, the number is overwhelmingly male, and like you said, many females are stuck in the “pink topics.” However, with more females graduating with journalism degrees, maybe that will spark a change in the way women are represented in the media. Maybe the stereotypes for what female journalists write about will break down as well.

  2. For me as a journalist and writer, I naturally gravitate towards the “pink topics” and I am not ashamed of that. I love writing about fashion and design, more than any other topic out there. I think one of the reasons that women are so stuck on these topics is because up until 50 years ago, those topics were all women were supposed to care about. It was always the men covering the more important stories, like war and politics. I think each day, more women are being given opportunities to write non pink topics, if they want to and are given the chance. Change takes a while, but I do believe that the field is changing.

    • If you like to write about “pink topics,” there’s no shame in that. Personally, I just don’t enjoy “pink topics.” I don’t keep tabs on fashion trends, celebrity gossip articles, or advice on cooking. (Trust me, you do not want my cooking advice. I’ve burnt grilled cheese and mac and cheese.) I’d much rather write an article about an unusual event.

      Also, sexism works both ways: I’m sure there are men out there who want to write “pink topics,” so giving them to women isn’t necessarily right, either.

  3. I too find this information very interesting compared to the SJMC staff. I think it is a combination of sexism and the women in the field not pursuing those stories and positions. There are some women who just feel that they won’t get the story or position so they don’t even try and pursue it. I do, like Maggie said, hope this is changing! Women need to remember that they have ever right and ability that men do! More women need to pursue these higher positions to make a path for future women.

  4. I’m glad you wrote about this. Stereotypically, I used to think journalism was a primarily female-dominated field. It’s important to remember that statistically, there are still less women in the workplace than men and that historically women have been given much less rights in terms of employment than men have, so this could be a factor as to why women are underrepresented in this field, because they are underrepresented in so many others as well. I think this topic relates to the majority of other areas of employment as well. Mostly, I think it’s a matter of overcoming inadvertent discrimination and stereotypical behaviors. I agree with Claudia though that women could choose these topics because they appeal to them more; if I am able to attain a job in news I would like to write on breaking news or work on political campaigns. When it comes to positions in the workplace, women should be considered for promotion or hiring based on their experience and skill, not based on the fact that they are women.

  5. This is an interesting topic. I’ve never heard of the term “pink topics,” but I see that every day. I work Meredith, and most of the publications there (Better Homes and Gardens, Traditional Home, Midwest Living) are run by a female-dominated staff. I work at Allrecipes magazine, and out of our eight-member team, only two are men. However, when when I walk across the hall to places like marketing, SEO, and account management, I find the offices to be more male-dominated. I agree with Claudia in that many women are indeed driven to “pink topics,” (myself included), but I understand what you mean when you say it’s difficult for a woman to break out of this mold to cover more hard-hitting subjects.

  6. I agree with Claudia that I really enjoy writing about “domestic” topics. That being said I also love writing about sports and politics and I would hate to be delegated to write about a certain subject because I’m a girl. During an internship this summer I actually dealt with this problem. I was writing articles for a chain of radio stations and the only station that never gave me work was the sports station. The company’s second intern (a man) started two weeks after me and was immediately given work from them. It was incredibly frustrating, especially when I would ask them for work and they would say they were going to have him do it instead. It’s ridiculous that this is still happening in 2014.

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