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Journalists Institutions
The gender gap in journalism

Men occupy 75% of the positions of maximum responsibility in the Spanish media

The precariousness in the media focuses on women journalists: among the members of the editorial offices with university studies that charge less than 1,000 Euros, 85% are women. In addition, men hold three quarters of the positions of maximum managerial responsibility and two thirds of the positions of decision-making on the contents. An international study with the participation of Spanish researchers shows data on this gender gap.

Redacción de un medio. / Wikimedia Commons

The International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) is the largest observatory of gender equality in the news media worldwide. In 2011 it published an international study in which it was highlighted that 73% of the positions of maximum corporate responsibility were held by men, as well as two thirds of the decision-making positions on the contents.

Researchers from the Rey Juan Carlos University (URJC), the Universidad Complutense of Madrid and the University of Munich (Germany) have analyzed how in the Spanish communication companies the patterns of female labor inequality prevail: underrepresentation, barriers in the professional career and lower salaries. Their work, for which they conducted a survey of 390 journalists, is part of the study Worlds of journalism study.

"The exercise of journalism is very tough, very competitive, which together with the current precarious working conditions tilts the balance towards any other dedication that allows the conciliation of work and professional life", says Roberto De Miguel, of the URJC, co-author of the study published by the journal El Profesional de la Información to Sinc.

Women have more academic training and higher education levels in the practice of journalism. They also obtain lower wages

On the one hand, men occupy three-quarters of the positions of maximum managerial responsibility and two-thirds of the positions of decision-making on contents. However, women have more academic training and higher education levels in the practice of journalism. They also obtain lower wages.

A glimpse of hope can be found in the new digital information platforms that constitute the niche of the labor market where the strongest progress towards equality is observed. In these media, women occupy positions of greater editorial responsibility.

The largest gap is in print media

"When we talk about the gender gap we must start from the fact that there is parity in the number of practitioners, but that salary levels and proportionality in the ranks are especially adverse for women in the case of the print media. There is a perception of greater equality in the electronic media (radio, television and digital media)," explains De Miguel.

The work also explains some of the strategies of women in the journalistic career. Maximizing intellectual capital is the main way for journalists to reduce the gender gap. "Greater demands are put on women. Our data show that practically all of them have completed the studies that enable them to practice this profession. They also strive to achieve the highest degree of academic education (master courses or doctorate)," says the researcher.

According to the authors of the work, this eagerness for the 'fulfillment of the formative duty' obeys to a strategy of empowerment within the newsrooms: the greater their capacities, the more possibilities they have to maintain their jobs or be promoted. "The fact that men do not stand out academically is a clear indication that they have another type of competitive advantage," says De Miguel.

Among those who charge less than 1,000 Euros net per month, 85% are women

Precariousness in the segment of journalists with the highest university qualifications is focused on women. Among those who charge less than 1,000 Euros net per month, 85% are women.

73% of women receive a salary of less than 2,000 Euros per month regardless of the position they occupy, which does not distance them from their male peers (69%). What does make a difference is that the ratio of seniors exceeding 2,000 Euros a month is one woman for every two men.

"There is no empirical evidence of this, but the analysis of the data from our research suggests that there is a critical period, between 35 and 45 years, in which women journalists face the dilemma of 'being one more of the staff' or being mothers, which is hardly compatible with this profession," reflects Miguel.

Women journalists located at the top of the media ladder exceed, on average, that age group, which means that they do not carry family burdens. This has been detected in other professional areas, such politics: "The average age of the representatives is extremely high", says the expert.

In the opinion of researchers, women survive in the journalistic labor market due to their ability to adapt: "Women journalists are aware of their disadvantages to maintain or progress in the profession, which, together with their greater specialization and training, makes them more resolute when adopting innovations".

When you look separately at what happens in digital media, the gender gap narrows and there are more women in decision-making positions. This confirms a hypothesis about how women 'take over' niche information markets.

A long tradition of innovators in the media

Woman journalists open a gap in the information ecosystem by invading new genres, themes or styles that have not yet been colonized by men.

"In Spain we have many examples of this innovative desire: Emilia Pardo Bazán, Concepción Gimeno, Carmen de Burgos (Colombine), Isabel Oyarzábal and Carmen Eva Nelken (Magda Donato).All of them exercised a declared 'feminine' journalism in their time, due to their social themes, and they were introducing genres such as the chronicle and the interview, which constituted an innovation in nineteenth-century journalism. Both genders were later colonized by men," says De Miguel.

The so-called 'blog phenomenon', emerging at the beginning of the first decade of the 21st century, is another example of this pattern. "The creation of blogs is paradigmatic in the field of strategic innovations, because thanks to them, women have managed to 'seize' a space in which it is possible to report and express opinions with full autonomy, if not become directors, editors and reporters of their own micro-environment, without submitting to the opinion or authorization of male hierarchies at the time of publication. The phenomenon of influencers is another example of an empowerment strategy for expansion," he concludes.


Roberto De-Miguel, Thomas Hanitzsch, Sonia Parratt, Rosa Berganza. "Mujeres periodistas en España: análisis de las características sociodemográficas y de la brecha de género". El Profesional de la Información, 2017.

Source: SINC
Copyright: Creative Commons
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