LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Women hold only a third of senior decision-making positions in European media organisations, a new study said, blaming ingrained sexism, thriving 'old boy' networks and inflexible working conditions for the lack of women in top jobs.
Research by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) also showed that almost three-quarters of media organisations in the European Union (EU) have no gender equality plans, diversity policies or codes of conduct whatsoever.
"These results were presented to researchers who have been working for quite some time in this area," said Ioana Borza, one of the authors of the report. "What's been striking for them is that the numbers are the same compared with 10 years ago or 15 years ago – so there's not been much advancement."
Despite the fact that women make up nearly half the workforce, the dominance of men in the media not only presents an obstacle to women seeking to further their careers, it also restricts women's ability to influence content in a sector that helps shape public opinion, the report said.
Researchers surveyed 99 media organisations across the 28 EU member states, including newest member Croatia.
The survey sampled public service broadcasters, together with a range of large-scale private media organisations, which were chosen for their size, popularity and influence. It was carried out in 2012.
The study found that women occupy a mere 16 percent of positions at the strategic level, including chief executive officer, president or director in media organisations across the EU, while at the operational level – which includes roles such as editor-in-chief and heads of department – their share is 33 percent.
The proportion of women on boards is equally poor. On average, only one in four board members is female.
"The findings are a bit troubling because there are few media organisations which implement gender equality strategies, or take into consideration or even have a department to monitor the number of women and men in their organisations," Borza told Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview.
Only 16 percent of the media organisations surveyed has a committee responsible for equality policy, only 14 percent has an equality or diversity officer and just nine percent has an equality or diversity department.
Besides being under-represented in the top positions, women in the media also face a glass ceiling when it comes to being promoted and in terms of salaries, receiving less than their male colleagues, the report said.
Greater numbers of women in top media positions would not only bring social justice and a better use of talents but this would also improve media content, EIGE said.
"Just the presence of a woman can change the discussion about what the content of the news is, what are the issues that need to be addressed, how this should be further represented," Borza said.