Looking at women’s lot

WOMEN in journalism can be forced into freelancing by employers who won't allow flexitime for mothers. This was one of the issues raised at this years NUJ Women's Conference held in February.

Over 50 women attended the conference at NUJ headquarters to explore progress made in the 30 years since the union published the Images of Women guidelines for promoting equality through journalism. We asked if this seminal guide to non-sexist reporting has made any difference or has gender stereotyping just got more subtle?

Kat Banyard from the Fawcett Society noted that sexism in the media is still profound: only 14 per cent of newspaper editors are women. Jenny Rintoul and Sue Tate from the Bristol Fawcett and Bristol Feminist Network looked at how images of women in the media are still routinely sexualised or idealised. They called for more "active" portrayals. Narmadha Thirangama, TUC Women's Officer, spoke about gender pay gaps: 29 per cent of women are still in low-paid work. In 2005 30,000 pregnant women were pushed out of their jobs and journalists employers too are loath to allow flexitime or home-working. Many women have no choice but to go freelance or part-time or leave the profession altogether.

Participants also asked: why don't more women stand for positions in the NUJ's democratic structures? Women make up 48 per cent of the union's membership and are well-represented within chapels, but few make the move into the union's leading structures.

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