IWMF launches the global glass ceiling report

IWMF launches the global glass ceiling report

Date: May 6, 2011
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A groundbreaking report on media houses in more than 500 countries has found that almost three quarters of top media jobs are held by men.

The Global Report on the Status Women in the News Media, produced by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) looked at newsrooms in 60 countries, finding that men occupy the vast majority of media jobs internationally.
The IWMF commissioned the study to closely examine gender equity in the news media around the world. The full report was unveiled at the International Women Media Leader’s Conference in Washington DC. A powerful gathering of nearly 75 women media executives from around the world analysed the report and voted on a plan of action to “level the playing field” for women in newsrooms in their home countries at the 25 March conference. The conference was hosted by the IWMF and George Washington University’s Global Media Institute.

In this long-awaited extensive study, researchers found that 73% of the top management jobs are occupied by men. Among the ranks of reporters, men hold nearly two-thirds of the jobs, compared to 36% held by women. However, among senior professionals, women are nearing parity with 41% of news-gathering, editing and writing jobs. The new global study shows women in 26% of the governing and 27% of top management jobs.

“It is crucial to have top management involved in decisions on these policies (to improve the status of women in newsrooms),” said Kjersti Sortland, managing editor of Norway’s Verdens Gang, which was named one of the model companies of its region in the global study. “We agreed on having 50/50 gender equality and a strict policy on how to get there,” including evaluating managers on this.”

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) General Manager and Editor-in-Chief Jennifer McGuire recalled how an early producer of CBC’s As It Happens (Karen Levine) decided the show “sounded too male….She started tracking voices on air” and shaped policies to change that. “Good intentions are not enough,” said McGuire. The CBC was named a model company for working women by researchers in the global study.

“For the first time we have scientifically collected evidence that offers a true picture of the very real challenges faced by women working in the media industry,” International Women’s Media Foundation Executive Director Liza Gross said. “Women in every region of the world still face many barriers – whether it is lower salaries than their male counterparts or lack of access to decision making jobs in the newsroom.”

The IWMF study covering 170 000 people in the global news media found a higher representation of women in both governance and top management within both Eastern Europe (33% and 43%, respectively) and Nordic Europe (36% and 37%, respectively), compared to other regions. In the Asia and Oceania region, women are barely 13% of those in senior management, but in some individual nations women exceed men at that level – in South Africa women are 79.5% of those in senior management. In Lithuania women dominate the reporting ranks of junior and senior professional levels (78.5% and 70.6%, respectively), and their representation is nearing parity in the middle and top management ranks.

The global study identified glass ceilings for women in 20 of 59 nations studied. Most commonly these invisible barriers were found in middle and senior management levels. Slightly more than half of the companies surveyed have an established company-wide policy on gender equity. These ranged from 16% of companies surveyed in Eastern Europe to 69% in Western Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

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