At first glance, one may see numbers of female correspondents and news anchors on public television, read letters from female editors of fashion magazines, or read columns in newspapers written by famous female faces. If one looks farther, however, at statistics and studies, we find that women are not represented equally in the field of journalism at all. In a world that consists half of women, ratios in the workplace should reflect the gender percentages, especially in the media. In the United States, while women comprise about half of the professional workforce, only 33% of journalists are of the latter sex. Although their numbers are steadily increasing, women in the field of journalism are under represented (Jurkowitz).
Any writer's role is to inform. Journalists must bring knowledge to societies of a broad range of subjects, channeling every group and each gender. In some circumstances, women are better represents of subjects because of their natural persona. A woman could hypothetically do a much better job of remaining sensitive and understanding in interviewing a rape victim about the crime, and then in writing about her findings, for example. Women are needed in the newsroom to represent their sex and to bring to the table things men cannot (Sullivan).
In a census gathered by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, statistics proved that the number of white women in the field of journalism declined in the last year by almost 1,100. A similar survey showed gender inequality in the newsroom. Almost half of the women polled planned to change jobs by relocating with another newspaper company or leaving the industry, while only one third of males at the same level said the same. The women also said they enjoyed their duties and responsibilities less than their male counterparts (Jurkowitz). At newspapers of top rated universities, only ten to twenty percent of columnists were women writers (Sullivan).
In Bangladesh, only four percent of women journalists remain in the "main stream" of journalism. They cite unfair and stereotyped attitudes and treatment, job insecurity, and harassment by males, as reasons for leaving the field (Women in Media). In Africa, at the Cameroon Tribune, there are eight female compared to thirty male journalists. The situation has improved, however, compared to the 1980's where there were just two or three women at the same newspaper (Lutes).
More and more women are striving to become writers. Throughout the past decade in Africa, the number of women who have made effort to join the field has doubled. In the 1980s, in journalism schools, it was possible to host three women in an enrollment of some 90 students (Cameroon). Today, in Pakistan at Karachi University, almost 80% of mass communication students are female. (Need for Women Representation). In the United States, women make up 64% of journalism and communication undergraduates and occupy two thirds of seats in journalism classrooms (Jurkowitz). As more women enroll in journalism schools worldwide than ever before, one might assume that the gender difference no longer exists. As statistics prove, however, women continue to suffer under representation (Lutes).
Although gender equality still is a relevant subject in the field of journalism, gaps have lessened since the 1900's when female writers were few and far between. Women who tried to inch their way into main stream media were poked fun at and ridiculed. The 1907 trial of Harry Kendall Thaw, an infamous Pittsburgh millionaire, for the murder of Stanford White, who supposedly seduced Thaw's wife, received much publicity. The term, "sob sister," was coined to poke fun at the four women journalists whose stories of the trial made the front page news and who received as much publicity as the case itself.
Denotating a female journalist who specialized in
sentimental or human-interest stories, or more generally,
a woman writer who could wring tears,' sob sister was...
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