Sexism: let’s talk about it!

A few months ago, Anais Lecoq, a French print journalist, launched a new Facebook page “Paye ton journal” to denounce sexism in the French media. It compiles anonymous testimonies of different female journalists who faced sexism at work due to their colleagues and their interviewees. The rules are simple: there is no name, no recognizable media, just the story of those women.

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Source: Paye ton journal – the testimony has been translated (French to English)

 

It was something “important” to do for Anais Lecoq. “{Now} female journalists have found a place to speak up and to be heard. It allows them to legitimate what happened and to understand they are not alone. But I would obviously have never thought there would be that many people interested in this page. That certainly shows a problem in journalism…”.

 

Female journalists do not only face sexism through inappropriate remarks from colleagues or others. There are also some inequalities in the media itself. Although more and more women are present in the newsrooms today, there is still a gender gap between journalists.

Women journalists face a vertical segregation which is also known as the glass ceiling. More prestigious positions in the media (e.g: editorial or management positions) are still hardly accessible for women. It often requires long hours and can be held on weekends and/or at night. According to some media employers, this is apparently not suitable for women who need to take care of their house and children. They are clearly boiled down to their primary conditions.

The glass ceiling is not the only bias faced by women in the media. There is also a horizontal segregation which divides men and women in the sector they cover. Some journalistic fields such as politics, sports or economy are still male dominated. At the opposite, female journalists are more likely to be found in specialized press, women’s magazines, culture or education pages. It appears those rubrics are more suitable for women because it is a primary extension of their nature. Their redaction expects them to be kinder, less aggressive and to write with feelings in their papers.

“A sad reality” for Anais Lecoq. “I remember a female journalist telling me that she applied for a job covering politics and her chief editor told her: “Don’t you like what you do right now (culture)? You’re not serious enough for politics”. Another was told that she was “too cute” to be covering economics and “so much better in fashion magazines”.

 

In fact, sexism can be found everywhere in our society which is why it is also present in the media. Differences between both genders can be observed in the early stages of life (girls are pink and boys are blue). Then, parents, friends and school help children to understand them.

Tracey Holmes, senior journalism lecturer at UTS believe that “it will change with the new generation. It is an education progress, we are mixing classes, men and women hold the same qualifications and they debate together”.

Although some positive changes already occurred, there is still a long way to go to find perfect equality between male and female journalists. Until then, “female journalists need to be confident and to do a better job that the male can do. It is a fantastic remedy against those who don’t believe in women” said Tracey Holmes.

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