Sexism in journalism should be old news

Illustration by Aleah Green

As a journalism major, I've noticed that women make up the majority of students in my classes. Considering this, I assumed that the career field must be the most diverse of any major.

That assumption couldn't be further from the truth. The reality is that women in journalism programs still face male-dominated newsrooms.

A 2016 report from the nonprofit American Society of News Editors, which is a membership organization for journalistic organizations, found that women make up two-thirds of graduates whose degrees are in journalism or mass communication. The report states that women only make up one-third of the media industry. This is a puzzling gap in availability and employment.

It’s possible that female journalism graduates are finding careers that aren't in their field of study. It's also possible that the media industry is hiring more men than women at an unfair rate. Either way, there's a serious problem for future female journalists.

In an article from the Nieman Report, Anna Griffin wrote about her experience as a former columnist at The Oregonian. Her position led her to realize that historically, and still, in society, men have dominated high paying positions like editing jobs. Griffin stated that women recognize there are few opportunities to move up to higher levels so they are often forced to leave journalism. She found this happened because men hold positions of power and men are the ones most likely to get promotions.

This belittling experience Griffin faced in her line of work is a classic example of what institutionalized sexism looks like within a career field. It’s a sad reality that regardless of how motivated and hardworking a female journalist is, she won't be taken as seriously as her male counterparts.

Another female perspective of working in the newsroom comes from Jill Abramson, who was the first female executive editor at The New York Times. After taking that position, she soon found that her authoritative role made her a target for her co-workers.

In an article from The Atlantic, she spoke about her experience in that position. Abramson said her position as an editor made her seem unlikable. She saw these types of comments as hypercritical and sexist when she compared herself to male co-workers who had positions similar to hers. For Abramson, she was seen as pushy but the other male editors were regarded as aggressive, which for men is associated with good leadership.

Another hot topic Abramson brought up regarding The New York Times was that she wasn't getting paid the same amount as a male editor at her same level. It’s widely discussed in any career field whether women are getting paid for the same amount of work as their male co-workers. For her to eventually be fired for discussing the issue shows that there is a deep-rooted equal pay issue for women in journalism.

This should change. Women deserve equal pay and women with journalism qualifications deserve the same opportunities that men with the same qualifications receive.

For the women who are going to graduate with a degree in journalism, it doesn't seem like it will be easy to find a career that can guarantee growth in the sometimes toxic culture of newsrooms. As a male student in journalism, I can’t fathom the obstacles that my female classmates face in pursuit of getting their dream job.

For too long, journalism has been ruled by male voices. It shouldn’t be that way anymore.