In 2020, society reflects on the past decades and decades of tribulations, challenges and long-overdue progression on women’s rights.
Recent women’s rights movements have directly impacted women in the field of journalism.
Overall, the consensus given by two University of Florida professors at the College of Journalism and Communications and one dean seems hopeful. Looking to the future, perhaps we will see continuous improvement when it comes to the rise of women in journalism and in workplaces and professions everywhere.
“There is no question that gender discrimination still exists today and can hold women back,” said Diane McFarlin, dean of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida. “Sexism was rampant in my day, but I found a way to deal with it that worked for me and cleared a path for me to be able to do my best work. I faced challenges as a young woman entering the field of journalism, but it was possible to overcome them.”
Changes still remain in the industry today. Young upcoming journalists face these challenges daily. According to the Women’s Media Center in the most recent 2019 annual diversity survey, a record low number of responses to its annual diversity survey indicated only 17.3 percent of newsrooms responded. The American Society of News Editors’ latest tally found that women comprised 41.7 percent and people of color 22.6 percent of the overall workforce in those responding newsrooms. According to the study, women journalists don’t even make up half of the newsroom workforce. As a young upcoming woman journalist, this is extremely discouraging information.
“The way I see it everyone has challenges and things to face,” said Roxane Coche, assistant professor of Telecommunication and associate director of Sports Journalism at UF’s CJC. “In America’s society, the society was built by and for men, especially white men, women do have things against them. However, a lot of initiatives in the past decade have really begun to turn the tide. I hope we are going in right direction.”
The mentioned movements have inspired females across the globe to pursue their careers regardless of obstacles. Coche’s struggles mainly stemmed from her own experiences of being underestimated as a woman in sports journalism.
“Based on different race or ethnic backgrounds people do make assumptions,” Sylvia M. Chan-Olmsted said, a professor in the Department of Telecommunication and Director of Media Consumer Research at UF. “In fact, assumptions based on gender still exist in the journalism field, such as, male journalists know more about sports or politics. I do feel that those are still impressions in the journalism field.”
However, Chan-Olmsted said she believes these impressions are firstly based on the general public. She also feels optimistic about the future of the field of journalism, believing that stereotypes, racism and sexism will not limit upcoming journalists in the workplace.
“The general public still has these stereotypes, but today journalists are currently changing the structure. They know these problems exist, so they can write about these issues and change them,” Chan-Olmsted said.
“Journalism is skill-based and substance-based,” she said, “It should not be about the background of journalists. We don’t see race or gender as a barrier if you think about it.”
If you’re a woman in journalism, do not let yourself be discouraged. The field continues progressing, and we get to progress right along side it.