Top jobs in the Southern Africa media continue to elude women

Date: November 2, 2009
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Women are underrepresented in Southern Africa media houses; they hit the ‘glass ceiling’ at senior management and their representation wanes in top decision-making positions. Media women are more likely to be assigned to “soft beatsÀ; to be on non-permanent contracts and to earn less, on average, than men. These are just but some of the findings of the Glass Ceilings: Women and men in Southern African media to be launched in Johannesburg today. A live debate on the findings of the report will be broadcast live on SABC International in the evening from 20h00 to 21h00

The most comprehensive audit ever undertaken of women and men in Southern African media, the study presents findings from 126 media houses in 14 Southern African Development Corporation (SADC) countries representing 23, 678 employees. Gender Links conducted the study in collaboration with the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Network and the Gender and Media Diversity Centre.
The study found that women constitute 41% of all employees in Southern African media houses compared to 59% men. This varied by country with Lesotho having the highest number of women in media at 78%, followed by South Africa and Seychelles, that have achieved gender parity. DRC, Malawi Mozambique and Zimbabwe fall below the one third mark. At 13% Zimbabwe has the lowest representation of women in the media. If South Africa, which constitutes about half of the media employees in the region is excluded the proportion of women in the Southern African media drops to 32%.
Only 23% of the top managers, 28% of senior managers and of those on boards of directors in media houses in Southern Africa are women. Media women have a higher level of job insecurity compared to their male counterparts: 58% of men are on full time, open ended contracts compared to 42% women. There is a marked gender division of labour within media houses with women dominating in finance and administration (54%), advertising and marketing (57%) and human resources. Men predominate in the production of media content from editorial (58%) to the 84% of those in the technical/IT departments.
Women media practitioners through out the region dominate in what are considered “soft beatsÀ such as gender equality (71%) and gender violence (71%) while men predominate in “hard beatsÀ such as investigative/in-depth reports (80%), sports (76%) and political stories which are linked to promotion and better working conditions. Sexist attitudes abound; as one of the male respondent put it: “We expect women to be at home at 6pm cooking, not at press conferences mingling with ministers.À
Only 16% of media houses surveyed said they had gender policies but few could articulate the contents of such policies. On the positive side 68% of the media indicated they would consider developing gender policies showing a commitment to address some of the challenges arising from these findings.
Gender Links announces the release of Glass Ceilings in Southern Africa media:
For more information contact Dumi on  078 585 0366
To order copies of the report: Contact Mwenda on

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