Everbach and Flournoy: Women Leave Journalism for Better Pay
- 53most newsrooms, men construct hierarchical and bureaucratic structures toenforce their definition of news.
Women’s journalistic work goals sometimesconflict with masculine ideals of important journalism
and female journalistsoften feel pressure to prove themselves as “one of the men,” even though theymay have different social and personal concerns than do men and differentdefinitions of what is news.
It is crucial that both journalism educators and newsroom managers under-stand why women leave newsrooms so they can find ways to retain them. Thetrend of female students dominating journalism programs shows few signs of diminishing. In 2004, women received 65.4 percent of journalism bachelor’sdegrees, the highest percentage since the end of World War II.
But many female journalism graduates eventually forsake the profession. Professors must under-stand why women leave newsroom jobs so they can help their students succeedas journalists.Therefore, the reasons behind female journalists’ exits from newsroomswere studied by talking to the sources—the women who left.
Women’s Journalistic Standpoint
During the second wave of feminism in the 1970s, women believed andwere told that they could have successful careers and families, as many men do.By the 1990s, many women were questioning this premise, saying women haddifferent concerns and responsibilities than did men. During the third wave of feminism, cultural feminists maintained women were a separate cultural groupfrom men, with different values and practices. Women have their own “stand-point” in a patriarchal society that emphasizes male needs, desires and accom-plishments.
In the male-dominated world of journalism, women’s needs oftenconflict with the demands of the newsroom.Newsrooms have hierarchical and bureaucratic structures constructedhistorically by male desires, needs and definitions of news.
Female journalistshave reported different conceptions and constructions of news than have men,a phenomenon Van Zoonen calls a “gendered nature of journalism.”
Femaleand male journalists perceive journalism differently; that is, they considerdifferent topics, angles, sources and ethics to be important. For example, so-called “masculine” journalism focuses on politics, crime, finance, education andupbringing, while “feminine” journalism involves human interest, consumernews, culture and social policy.
Achievement in many journalism jobs isdefined by production, which sometimes conflicts with women’s ethical com-mitments to serve their audiences and personal responsibilities at home. Womenhave long struggled to show their commitment to their jobs while also doingmeaningful work, goals that sometimes conflict with masculine ideals of important journalism.
Female journalists also perceive newsrooms as male- biased workplaces, as Walsh-Childers, Chance and Herzog showed in a surveyof 277 female reporters, editors and graphic artists at 120 small, medium and