Sitting around The Uniter’s section editor meetings, I’m often acutely aware I’m the only woman at the table.
Don’t get me wrong, my male co-editors are wonderful professionals and people with whom I’ve shared laughs, debates and ethical dilemmas with over the past year.
The gender difference however, has often stuck out to me as I’m sipping on my Sleeman’s Honey Brown on the couches at the Lo Pub discussing the next issue.
According to a recent report from The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), there are most likely a lot of women out there having the same revelation.
The Global Report on the Status Women in the News Media examined 170,000 people in the news media and involved interviews with 500 companies in 59 countries, including Canada.
After nearly two years in the field, the report concluded that men hold nearly two-thirds of reporting jobs while around 36 per cent are held by women.
As for what the study refers to as senior professional positions of news-gathering, editing and writing roles, 41 per cent are held by women.
These numbers weren’t particularly surprising to me as it’s no secret that while women have increased their presence in many male-dominated professions over the years, there is still a solid glass ceiling at play in most career fields.
What did strike me as odd was the aspect of Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the report that made the suggestion that female journalists would be more likely to interview other women as sources.
The article acknowledges that while there is no accurate correlation to prove this, it is speculated that women report on issues differently than men - even going to far as saying they would speak to different sources.
As found in a 2010 study by the Global Media Monitoring Project, that calls itself the largest and longest longitudinal study of women in the world’s media, three times as many men than women are used as sources in news stories.
While Al-Jazeera’s commentary piece suggests that this inequity is associated with the lack of women in newsrooms, I’d argue that isn’t the case at all.
As a reporter and editor, I strive to find the right person to speak to whatever issue or story is being told.
It’s not about whether you’re a man or a woman, it’s about your experiences, your knowledge of the topic at hand and the substance you can provide for the reader.
Where gender does play a role in sources is in the reality that barriers do still remain to gender equity in many professional and management jobs. At the end of the day, there are still more men in management than women, therefore it’s understandable that official sources quoted are often men.
It’s natural as well for each reporter, male or female, to look at each story a little differently based on their previous life experiences, reporting jobs and understanding of the world at large. It is for this reason the media is full of unique perspectives that open eyes and minds constantly.
At the end of the day, news should be about telling the most accurate and balanced story possible, regardless of whether you were born with an X or a Y chromosome. While I’ve noticed I’m the only girl at the table with a bunch of boys, it doesn’t determine the way in which I do my job.
If women start trying to win the workplace gender battle by stacking the deck with female sources, we’re only bound to set ourselves further back in the battle for equality.