Unfair prospects after graduation
I was called intimidating two times in the last three weeks by two of my male peers. Coming two weeks after I attended a Women in Media panel at the Excellence in Journalism Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, that exposed me to the true gender inequality that still exists in the journalism industry. The panelists informed me that attaining a leadership role at any publication will not be an easy road, and I can expect to face many obstacles along the way. It is too often that men are promoted based on potential and women are promoted based on their work.
So far in my journalism career I have been fortunate. I attained an executive board position my first semester at Ithaca College for the Society of Professional Journalists and a year later was named editor for this publication. In both organizations, women dominate the leadership roles, and women are the majority of students in the journalism department at Ithaca College.
Again, the panelists brought me back down to reality. In the real world, men dominate the industry, regardless of what your college newsroom looks like. How is it possible that more women are going to school for journalism, being leaders in school, yet not reaching those same heights in the industry?
The root of the problem spans much further than just the media industry. Gender inequality seeps into most, if not all facets of life. For no logical reason, men earn higher salaries than women who perform the same work. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, women make 77 percent of what men make and the median pay gap is $10,784 as of 2010. Women struggle to reach the same managerial roles that men reach. Women are sexualized and objectified in all media because they can be and some people don’t seem to see a problem with that. Some people still think women’s primary role should be in the home.
How is it that women’s confidence comes off intimidating and abrasive, while men’s confidence comes off empowering and positive? I am confident in my work, I have strong opinions and hold people accountable, and yet somehow that led two of my peers to label me intimidating.
These comments have just confirmed everything the media panelists expressed; my personality in the newsroom could potentially turn people off and hurt my career.
Jill Abramson was fired as the executive editor of the New York Times, supposedly due to her managerial style. She was a confident women in charge of one of the most important publications in the world. Her confidence never should have been seen as a negative. Confidence has the potential to push people past their limits and attain success.
In an article on NYmag.com, Abramson’s salary was compared to her predecessor Bill Keller’s salary. When Abramson became the executive editor her salary was $475,000, then raised to $503,000, and only after she protested, raised to $525,000. When Keller finished as executive director his salary was $559,000. Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. did release information that Abramson’s full compensation was more than Keller’s compensation, but due to the economy, pension packages can fluctuate from year to year. Why was no reason given as to why the base salaries weren’t comparable?
According to an article in Time by Sheila Weller, in March 2010, three out of the six top news anchors spots were filled by women, and in 2005 none of those spots were filled by women. In 2010, Katie Couric left CBS Evening News and Christiane Amanpour was dismissed from ABC’s This Week in 2011. And now, after Diane Sawyer stepped down from ABC World News in August, there are no longer any women in the top anchor spots. This doesn’t mean that the men in these roles are not doing the job well — there aren’t any women anchors that could do the job just as well or better?
No matter how far gender equality comes by the time I graduate — probably not far in a year — I am not going to change who I am as a person or a journalist because women are supposed to be the softer, calmer sex. I am going to pave my career path as the confident person I have become. Fuck anyone who doesn’t like it. If you earn that promotion before me or get hired in the job you want, it better be because your work proved your skill was above mine, not because I may cause waves because of my opinions and desire to be treated as an equal.
Taylor Barker is a junior journalism who is sick of your bullshit. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.