The Glass Ceiling and beyond Realities, challenges and strategies for South African media Report by: Diversity Sub-committee Sanef AGM East London July 2006
Survey aims • What realities do senior women journalists face in SA newsrooms? • What are the identified obstacles? • Which strategies can redress the situation? • What were the answers?
Presentation outline • Background • Methodology • Findings • Conclusions • Issues • Way forward
Background • Follow-up of “en-gendered’’ AGM2003, Durban • Aim to establish realities women journalists experience in SA newsrooms • However: no funding • After delays & cost concerns in getting the research done, the 2005/6 Diversity Sub-committee decided to fast track study & focus on • identify realities holding back the advancement of women in newsrooms • recommend strategies that would facilitate an enabling environment
Methodology • Socio-scientific, qualitative research methodology • Questionnaire compiled by Diversity Sub-com • Sanef office distributed e-questionnaire, collated findings • Population: 149 Sanef members • Period: March to mid May 2006. • 40 complete responses (= representative sample 27% of population) • Another 10 commented/replied in some way • Thanks to all those who took the time to take part in the survey
Findings Q1-3 • Questionnaire completed by • 6 editors • 29 senior news journalists (various senior executive levels) • 5 educators/trainers • Ratios • 40 respondents • 25 female; 14 male; 1 “good question” = 62,5% female; 35% male; 2.5% not sure • Population: • 35% female; 65% male • Respondents’ gender reflects opposite, may indicate the priority with which the issue and the questionnaire was treated by male Sanef members (by implication, male senior news executives) • Experience of 40 respondents • 45% > 20 years’ experience • 45% 10 - 20 years’ experience • 10% < 10 years’ experience.
Findings Q4 Why do you think are there so few women editors at a senior level across all media in SA? Reasons offered – in broad concepts (not in order of importance) • “patriarchy” • “sexism” • “prejudice” • “marginalisation” • “historical fact” • “structural inequalities” • “family commitments” • “cultural factors” • “social injustices” • “lack of support” • “discriminatory practices” • “lack of career planning for women journalists by media managers” [Question 5: How many women editors are there in your newsroom in relation to men (e.g. 1 out of 5) – answers too varied to be used]
Findings Q6 What are the obstacles in the way of women becoming senior editors? from “none” (a male respondent) to the already established broad concepts (Q4) • a male hegemonic society • stereotypical perceptions • family responsibilities (culture) • … women might be prone to “emotional instability” • … women not competent
Findings Q7, 8 & 9 What is the gender policy in your current newsroom? Are there affirmative action policies in newsrooms concerning gender? The answers to both showed that many senior media people were ignorant of policies in their own organisations/news rooms If so, how are they monitored for progress against targets? 27,5% did not answer 13,5% “not applicable” “did not know” “was not sure” 50% of answers ranged from that it is done • at a “regional level” • “constantly” • at the editor’s level, but “not down the line”
Findings Q10 & Q11 What attitudes towards women in management are prevalent in newsrooms – positive and negative? In general: seems as if improvement regarding acceptance of woman managers, despite prejudices. A change of mindset/ difficulty in applying. What ‘gender sensitivity’ regarding the news exists among those women who are in senior positions in the industry? • Women journalists are gender sensitive dealing with day to day news events • A critical mass of women in senior positions will lead to a change • (Although, various studies showed women often perpetuate existing male constructs of the newsroom environment – also indicated by some of the respondents.)
Findings Q12 What ‘gender sensitivity’ regarding the news exists among senior men in the newsrooms? “But I do think senior men think they are gender sensitive when in fact they are not. And the fact that they do not know that they do not know, is even worse than to argue/debate with those who are outright discriminating” Men still need to “work” on their gender awareness/sensitivity, As the majority answered in the negative. • 1 did not know • 6 did not answer • 1 “had absolutely no idea” • 3 “not applicable” one adding:
Findings Q13 And, how does this relate to their positions on women staffers and advancement? Examples? • From the number of non-responses (30%), either • questionnaire fatigue started to set in • or it is non-importance in terms of the topic • Men’s relation to women staffers and their advancement is not an important issue among senior news journalists. This is a serious matter: impacts n how women journalists are treated, and how news content is assessed and represented. • Responses • 12 did not answer • 1 was not sure • 1 had “absolutely no idea” • 4 “not applicable” • 1 did not understand the question
Findings Q14 If you were a senior woman editor and have left, why did you leave? Reasons: • retrenchment • harassment • pressure • a “sense of isolation” • no support base • undermining • not being taken seriously and • no space for flexibility 13 did not answer 16 indicated “not applicable” 14 male respondents - possibly why 13 refrained from answering
Findings Q15 What would bring you back to a senior position? Answers - reasons why women would return to senior positions • a change in newsroom environment • applied AA policies • gender awareness • “even playing fields” • a supportive environment and • flexi-hours/-work • 13 did not answer (see previous question) • 14 indicated “not applicable”, one adding “but a vicarious answer is: 50 pct of what is out there!!!”
Findings Q16 What strategies do you recommend for the advancement of women in newsrooms? Answers - some of the necessary strategies for the advancement and retention of women in newsrooms • general conscientising • building allies (also among women) • business plans supporting gender policies • a willingness by companies to foster changes • training and development programmes • the outlining of career paths • better strategies than just fining non-deliverers in terms of equity laws • facilities (e.g. a crèche) • flexible working hours/work • a supportive and enabling environment 7 did not answer
Conclusion • As was expected: a confirmation of what was recorded in other such surveys: In a male dominated society, women still are on the receiving end of discrimination • After 12 years of a “new South Africa”, in South Africa’s newsrooms it’s still a question of “same old” • The fact that such an important study had to be done without any funding, is a valid point of criticism against Sanef • One respondent: “Sanef really has to pull finger instead of providing lip service”
Conclusion One can safely extrapolate from the data that • discriminatory practices • structural inequalities • cultural factors • prejudices • patriarchy and • sexism are still alive and well in South African newsrooms These are clearly prohibiting South Africa’s women journalists from realising their potential
Issues Sexism: “lesser citizens”: “There’s a sense that many men do often still feel they are superior to women. No amount of workshops is going to change this ingrained sense of entitlement.” Racism: “Preferences and privileges enjoyed by white men” still prevail, but also: the “white old boys’ club seems to be replaced by a black old boys’ club”. Prejudice and discrimination: “Prejudice is still a factor, especially the higher you go – overt and covert” “Women are patronised and their opinions do not appear to be taken as seriously as those of men. This can be subtle, like jokes made at their expense when they give their opinions, or teasing. It seems friendly and even affectionate, but it is actually demeaning”
Issues Newsroom culture: “distinct maleness” and a “culture of maledom” Knowledge of equity laws: recommended that workshops on these issues are conducted within newsrooms. Employment conditions: “intrinsic nature of the job”; flexi hours/ flexi work. Institutionalised discrimination: “Interesting that these are the levels where skills are not the only requirement, but also the ability to fit in and perpetuate that establishment. In newspapers, women are rarely accepted at the upper levels of the organisation”. Family responsibilities: “treated with distrust”, work “twice as hard”; Lack of professional bodies: It was argued that such a body would e.g. fight for facilities.
Issues Current definition of news and news practices: A need to re-invent, redefine, renew and re-imagine news for our (post-colonial) post-apartheid society. One respondent: “Broader, deeper, constant debate as to what constitutes news, and what sort of social reality affects/ underpins news events, news production and the social responsibility of news purveyors – as monitors/watchdogs/ reporters” Non-existence of workshops, leadership seminars, career plans, mentors: Workshops to address obstacles; also for men: “I don’t want them (men) to feel alienated and marginalised because the struggle is for equality and empowerment, not for reverse discrimination”. Lack of political will: “Thirty years ago my fate and that of others was decided by a clique of men in power, often while they networked in the pub! Nothing has changed” “A majority of senior men think ‘political correctness’ […] is a joke. […] I regularly see relatively junior women staffers asked (half-jokingly, maybe..?) to get tea; referred to as ‘girls’ and if not exactly sexually harassed, then certainly expected to participate in banter that many might find undermining”
Recommendations • General conscientising • Building allies (also among women) • Business plans supporting gender policies • A willingness by companies to foster change • Training and development programmes • The outlining of career paths • Better strategies than just fining non-deliverers in terms of equity laws • Facilities (e.g. a crèche) • Flexible working hours/work • Supportive and enabling environment • Employment conditions • Developmental plans such as workshops, also for men • Intrinsic institutional reform Also requested: • Audit to get statistics of how many women are on which levels, • Study on sexual harassment
‘It’s about the money, honey’ • The fact that women’s empowerment means more disposable income, and that more women in the newsroom, also on senior levels would lead to higher “women content” would be to the benefit of the bottom-line, was also identified. • “This is not about activism alone: it makes good sense to be relevant to women readers as they are becoming a global majority of increasing economic oomph” • Sadly, the commercial imperative, if nothing else, should provide the impetus for male decision makers in the media world to implement change. • As one respondent said: “it’s about the money, honey”
Way forward within Sanef • No more lip service… • A Sanef commitment to be an agent of change is called for at • a Forum level AND • member-organisational level • an Action Plan on Gender that would address and redress the imbalances (such as the MAP SAEF/Gender Links on HIV/Aids and Gender) • Proposal: a team, tasked by Sanef through its AGM, and representative of all media affiliated to Sanef through its editors, should work on a strategic plan to redress the identified imbalances; work within a realistic time frame
One respondent summed it up: “Just do it” One last thought: “For evil to succeed, it takes far too many good people to keep quiet and stand by” Percy Qoboza The original quote, “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing” by Edmund Burke, was adapted by Qoboza