Gender and employment (in media industries)

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    • 00:00

      [MUSIC PLAYING][Gender and Employment]PROF.

    • 00:10

      KAREN ROSS: My name is Karen Ross,and I'm professor of media at Northumbria University.[Prof.Karen Ross, Professor of Media, Northumbria University]I'm going to introduce a case study on gender and employmentin media industries.[Historical overview]Women have a long but largely unpublishedhistory as pioneers in mainstream media organizations,

    • 00:33

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: having worked as journalists, editors, producers,broadcasters, and filmmakers.But mostly, when we think about gender in media,we don't really think further back than a few decades.But actually, women have been involvedin the formal practice of journalismfor at least 300 years.

    • 00:53

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: Even if that history is hard to excavate--not least because history itself is gendered;[History itself is gendered] it is too often "his story"--it's certainly out there.One of the first recorded newspapers for womenwas The Ladies Mercury, which began publishingin England in 1693.

    • 01:14

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: Although little is known about how it developed subsequently,150 years later one of the first American newspapers for womenbegan publishing in 1849, called The Lily,which was initially a journal for women membersof a local temperance society.In Britain there was a wave of suffrage publications

    • 01:36

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: in the late 19th century, such as the radical weeklyThe Revolution, published between 1868 and 1870.And on the opposite side of the world,the first Chinese women's magazine,The Journal of Women's Studies, began publishing in Shanghaiin 1898.

    • 01:57

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: While the content of newspapers and magazines for womenwas very often traditional in termsof appropriate female behavior-- for example,one of the longest-running American magazines,Godey's Lady's Book, in circulation between 1830and 1896, encouraged its readers to be pious,submissive, and domesticated-- they also occasionally

    • 02:21

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: had more radical things to say.For example, that women should be educated,or that they should earn their own wage.The ways in which we attempt to understandthe past through our contemporary lenshas been described as presentism, [Presentism]and historians regularly ask us to becareful about our interpretations of what

    • 02:42

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: has gone before based solely on what is now deemed appropriate.For example, Jane Cunningham Crolywas the founder and president of the Women's Press Clubof New York City, which she set up in 1889.Although she gave little support to the campaign for women'ssuffrage, and often exhorted women to behave demurely,

    • 03:06

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: some of her ideas were actually rather subversive,at one point suggesting the setting upof a women's parliament.And even her own work as a journalistbroke with patriarchal tradition.Journalists such as Croly, and the other womenwho wrote and published magazines and pamphletsin the 19th and 20th centuries, paved the way

    • 03:27

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: for subsequent generations of women media workers.And we need to pay attention to the nuance of history,and to consider the meanings of situated experience.While "the woman's page" is often now dismissed as a sexistanachronism, [The woman's page] the inclusion of such a sectionin early 20th-century newspapers provided much-needed jobs

    • 03:52

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: to women, and constituted a regular place for women readersto see material of specific interest to them.And in any case, the anti-argumentis not so much against having a woman's page, or a woman'spress, or indeed a woman's hour, because oftenthe content of those kinds of spaces

    • 04:13

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: is interesting to women-- but ratherit is in the naming of these media spacesas gendered which reminds us that the other 99% of contentis implicitly coded as male.[A decade of change]

    • 04:33

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: Despite the fact that women have worked in newspapers,radio, TV, and film for many years,their relative invisibility and marginalization onlyreally began to be addressed by the scholarly communityin the late 1970s, more or less coincidingwith second-wave feminism.[Second-wave feminism] One of the earliest studies--

    • 04:54

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: and still one of the largest-- was undertaken by MargaretGallagher for UNESCO, and published in 1981.That groundbreaking study looked at employment statisticsin 43 countries, and a repeat study was undertaken in 1995.What both those studies showed was

    • 05:15

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: that although the media workforce in many countrieswas moving towards parity in simple numerical terms,a deeper look showed both horizontaland vertical segregation.Women and men were unevenly distributedboth across different sections and departments,but also in terms of their hierarchical position.

    • 05:38

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: Gallagher's work laid the foundationfor the studies which came after, most of whichwere regional or national studies, but almost allof which showed the same trends.Women started well as entrants, but they were poorlyrepresented in senior management positions.They were often shunted into the less glamorous and less

    • 05:59

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: well-paid areas of media activity.When they returned to work after career breaks,they often had to start over.[Same old, same old: Contemporary patternsof women's employment]Gender inequalities within media industrieshave therefore been consistently viewedas a problem over the past few decades,

    • 06:20

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: and recent research carried out in the 2010s in the US,in Australia, and Europe all demonstratethat-- despite legislation outlawing gender discriminationin employment, which has been active in many countriessince at least the 1970s; despite the pledges madeby public service broadcasters over at least the last two

    • 06:42

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: decades to take gender equality seriously;despite decades of research, recommendations, policies,and guidance-- women still struggleto develop a career in most areas of the media industry.Why is that?Trends in journalism training show

    • 07:02

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: that increasing numbers of women are undertakingvocational media programs, including broadcast and printjournalism, social media, PR, and associated professions.Around the world, more women than menare graduating from these programs.And more women than men enter media industries.

    • 07:23

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: But they do not seem to go as far, or asfast, or in the same direction as their male colleagues.Two recent studies published in the UK showthat women are outnumbered 5-to-1 as writersof front-page stories, that they write only 20%of political stories, and are outnumbered8-to-1 as solo voices on prime-time and drive radio.

    • 07:48

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: Even when considering online journalism,research still evidences the same gender differences,so that the gender reports analysis of two online newssites in 2011 showed that 31% of stories had female bylines.[Glass ceilings and walls]

    • 08:11

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: Why does the early promise of women's career potentialseem to evaporate when they attemptto progress through the ranks?Is it really likely that their competence diminisheswith experience?Something happens to women as they try and advance upthe media ladder.Something happens to prevent them achieving the top jobs

    • 08:31

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: in any significant number.Something happens, which means they'rebarely visible as newspaper editors,as heads of broadcasting, as CEOs of media conglomerates.The largest survey of media organizations ever conducted,covering 59 countries, was published in 2011.

    • 08:53

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: And the authors found that 27% of top management jobswere held by women.In my own work on large-scale European media organizationsin 2013, which included every public service broadcasteracross the 28 EU member states, wefound that women occupied less than 1/3

    • 09:13

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: of all senior decision-making positions,and that they headed 15 of the 99 major mediahouses we surveyed.These findings are echoed in recent American researchpublished by the American Society of NewsEditors in 2014, which showed that womenrun three of the top 25 titles, and only one

    • 09:36

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: of the top 25 international titles.Women leave media organizations in larger numbers than men,and leave earlier, not only because theyfind it hard to achieve promotion,but also because of what is perceived as an unwelcomingworking environment for women.

    • 09:57

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: What researchers have discovered isthat the macho work culture identified by womenis mostly seen as entirely natural, normal,and unproblematic to their male colleagues.In 2012, the largest survey of female journalists workingin Australian news media found that nearly 60% of women

    • 10:18

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: had experienced some kind of sexual harassmentin the workplace, an increase of 5% on findingsfrom a 1996 survey.[Please adjust your set: Strategizing for equality]In 2015, the British House of Lords Communications Committee

    • 10:39

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: published its report on women in news and current affairsbroadcasting, which provided a damningcritique of the state of the media,and the industry's widespread failureto fairly represent women both in frontof and behind the camera.Importantly, the report identified bullying, sexism,

    • 10:60

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: and ageism as explicit issues which needed to be addressed.The marginalization of older women,both in relation to content and employment,has been a campaign issue for women journalistsfor many years.But even with the successful casesbrought against broadcasters by women media professionals,

    • 11:20

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: older women are still notable by their absencein the media landscape, despite the factthat older people-- and especially older women--comprise the largest segment of the broadcast mediaaudience in most countries.The Lords report also included the carefully wordedrecommendation that job and promotion opportunities

    • 11:42

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: should be awarded on the basis of fair and open competition.As with so many reports, this onemade a large number of recommendations in relationto how this dismal picture for women could be improved.But without the force of law, the extentto which broadcasters-- or indeed any other parts

    • 12:03

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: of the media-- will actively pursueany of those recommendations is entirely open to question.[Final thoughts]Over the past few decades, there havebeen numerous women journalists, filmmakers, program-makers,

    • 12:25

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: who have all been successful as independents and in mainstreammedia, working both with women-focused material,but also with mainstream plots and storylines.For example, Cosmopolitan's Helen Gurley Brown,or Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow,or Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Marie Colvin.

    • 12:48

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: All these women got to the top of their profession.But their very success is a double-edged sword.On the one hand, they and other top womencertainly do act as role models for the next generationof media practitioners.On the other, they are held up as evidence

    • 13:08

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: that media industries are not sexist or ageist,because if these women can succeed, so can any woman.By denying long-term structural barriersto women's progression, as evidenced by all the research Ihave just mentioned, women's failure to thriveis instead put back onto their shoulders.

    • 13:31

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: But would more women in senior positionsacross media industries make a better working environmentfor women and men-- really make a difference to what we see,read, and hear in the media?It's hard to know, because there are simplyinsufficient women around to be able to make that call.

    • 13:54

      KAREN ROSS [continued]: But at the very least, we would havecontent which reflects the work of all media workers,and not just the male half.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Gender and employment (in media industries)

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Karen Ross reviews the history and patterns of gender bias in the workplace.

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Gender and employment (in media industries)

Karen Ross reviews the history and patterns of gender bias in the workplace.

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