WASHINGTON – Women journalists, who still are out numbered by men, are judged to be less able to do on-the-ground reporting, have lower incomes and are often sexually harassed, according to eight female journalists from seven countries.
According to the 2010 Status of Women in the News Media research by the International Women’s Media Foundation, which looked at 500 media companies in 60 countries, 73 percent of the top management jobs were occupied by men and men held nearly two-thirds of the reporter jobs. However, among senior professionals, women were nearing parity with 41 percent of the newsgathering, editing and writing jobs.
“One of the challenges I’ve faced has been feeling more vulnerable than my male counterparts when reporting out in the field,” Passant Rabie, an Egyptian journalist, said in an email.
While it’s true that both male and female journalists are under threat while on the job in Egypt, the risks are higher for female journalists because women are more likely to be accosted, she said.
Nina Strochlic, who writes for National Geographic, said women also are less likely to be chosen for foreign assignments because their supervisors fear they are more likely to be attacked or in danger than male reporters.
“Because of limited resources and the idea of sending a reporter into the field, sending women reporters is rare and rare,” Strochlic said.
Colombian journalist Melissa Jaimes Ochoa said women are paid less and face sexual harassment in her country because of a “strong patriarchal culture.”
“Once I had a man as my boss, I never felt taken seriously; I was also underpaid, and I felt that my knowledge and skills were not valued,” said Jaimes Ochoa.
Brazilian reporter Luiza Muzzi agreed: “Moral and sexual harassment from interviewees and bosses happen a lot.”
In the Dominican Republic, though, women have the same reporting opportunities as male journalists, according to journalist Mariela Mejía. But they are less likely to reach high-level positions, she said.
“We just have one or two women as media managers, and the directors of the most important newspapers are men. Also, most of the editors are men,” Mejia said. “Men are most often in positions to make the decisions.”
Shabnam Rahmati, an Iranian journalist, said Iran also has a “glass ceiling.”
“The glass ceiling is real. For example, I would like to draw your attention to our newsroom — more than three-quarters of reporters are women, but there are only two female editors,” Rahmati said.
A Pakistani female journalist who asked that her name not be disclosed said Pakistan news companies are much the same. “Being a female journalist is more difficult because newsrooms are still largely male-dominated.”
Whitney Shefte, a senior video editor at The Washington Post, said her experience has been different.
“I do not believe that I faced many challenges just because I am a woman, but I have faced some subtle sexism in the work place regarding who gets which assignment, but it was not huge.”
According to American Society of News Editors, U.S. newsrooms remain about two-thirds male. In 2013, 65.4 percent of supervisors were male compared with 34.6 percent females. Among reporters, 62.2 percent were men. Overall, men held 63.7 percent of the jobs.