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Without a voice

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Not even one female political journalist was at the coalition government’s mid-term review.

At the government’s recent ‘mid-term review’, there was a noticeable absence in the press conference room. Women.

Women are already bearing a disproportionate burden of the government’s spending cuts, so it was particularly notable that there were no female political journalists at an event discussing measuring government performance.

Politics remains a largely male bastion, with women making up only 22 per cent of MPs and 22 per cent of peers.

As for the media, 74 per cent of national news journalists are male.

Given those statistics, it would have been no surprise to see only a few women among the roomful of journalists.

What was a surprise was not to see any.

‘Seen but not heard’ is the title of research from Women in Journalism (WIJ) that looks at the ways women contribute to and are depicted in the British media.

The findings show a division between the sexes very similar to the statistics above – 74 per cent of front-page bylines were male and 22 per cent were female.

Broadcast journalism seems to be doing a better job than print media at attempting gender equality, with a number of senior female journalists on television and women in senior executive positions.

Nan Sloane, director of the Centre for Women and Democracy (CFWD), told Women in Journalism that ‘there is a clear democratic justice argument for having more women in politics.

“You have 51 per cent of the population paying equal taxes, who are not equally represented when it comes to deciding how their money is spent.”’

With half the population under-represented in Westminster, unable to steer the news agenda in the newspapers and depicted visually in ways men rarely are – in various stages of undress – the absence of women at the mid-term review press conference was both evidence of and symptomatic of the need for change.

  1. sue tapply says:
    Let more women report how the country is run…
    ‘The fact that all the national papers have male political editors, and many have all-male political teams, is bound to affect the issues they cover and the politicians they rate.’ Mary Ann Sieghart writing in the Independent.

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