Mates over Merit: The Women in Media Report
A blokey culture that rewards ‘mates over merit’, tolerates sexual harassment and abuse, pays lip service to work-family balance, and perpetuates the gender pay gap has been exposed by a landmark survey of women in the Australian media.
According to the survey by Women In Media, a mentoring, networking and advocacy group supported by the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance:
*Discrimination remains rife, with policies “on paper, not in practice”: Only 11% of respondents rated them “very effective”.
*41% of women said they’d been harassed, bullied or trolled on social media, while engaging with audiences; several were silenced, or changed career.
*Only 16% of respondents were aware of their employer’s strategies to deal with threats.
*Almost half (48%) said they’d experienced intimidation, abuse or sexual harassment in the workplace.
*A quarter of the women who’d taken maternity leave said they’d been discriminated against, upon return to work. Some said they’d been put on the ‘mummy track’.
*One in three (34%) said they didn’t feel confident to speak up about discrimination.
*There’s evidence of an entrenched gender pay gap (reinforced by research from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency of a 23.3% gap in the sector).
“Progress towards equality for women in media is disappointingly slow,” Tracey Spicer, national convenor of Women in Media, said. “While there are more women than ever before working in the industry, they still dominate the lower paid, less powerful positions.”
“The media is often called a mirror of society. But it is failing to reflect our diversity.”
Katelin McInerney, director of MEAA’s Media section, said the union would use these findings to work with media employers to “fully harness the incredible potential of their female workforce”.
Strategies include audits and action on the gender pay gap; improved procedures to deal with social media harassment; and anti-discrimination policies to be put into practice.
“Outdated attitudes and ineffective policies are holding women back from making their fullest and most creative contribution to the media landscape, at a time when innovation, diversity and new ways of thinking are desperately needed to help our industry transition and meet the challenges of a new digital era,” McInerney said. “While we have secured some improvements, media companies have been slow to adopt pay transparency, superannuation during parental leave, and dedicated family violence leave.”
The survey was developed by the national steering committee of Women in Media and researcher Beverley Uther, and conducted by iSentia. It collected data from 1054 Australian journalists between September and December 2015, with 91.8% of the respondents being women.
The full survey is available for download at www.womeninmedia.net
For more information or comment, contact national convenor of Women in Media, Tracey Spicer, firstname.lastname@example.org (0411) 281 854 or director of MEAA Media, Katelin McInerney, email@example.com (0423) 020 463. Please see quotes from respondents on the following pages. Interviews available, upon request.