Women constitute only 24% of those who are heard, seen or read in the news industry says a UNESCO report from 2015. This is despite the impression that women are driving newsrooms world over. It’s even more ironic that media is supposed to drive the dialogue on gender fairness and the sector itself is plagued by the problem of biases and inequality. Diversity can not only bring ideas, but make media houses richer in approach to the way we as a world tell and hear stories.
“It brings in the reality that the world is made of. The world that we live in is diverse. 50% of the population is women. So we need to reflect that reality more and not the reality that perhaps men in suits would like to see,” said Sonia Singh, managing director of NDTV in an interview with SheThePeople. She adds that although at NDTV women outnumber men there was still is a need to make it more diverse in every area across the media industry.
Media specialist Vanita Khandekar is of the view that media is one industry that has pushed the envelope for women to rise and come out of their homes. Especially the advertising industry she believes has helped tremendously in showing the advent of diversity of genders making people more comfortable in seeing women go for work or men helping women at home like advertisements that talk of sharing the load.
“I used to cover advertising in the 90s and it is the first industry to start using girl child instead of boys in ads so that was a change in itself,” says Khandekar. So if media achieves the gender diversity level that we aspire, it would mean an advent of women in other industries as well. Since, mobility of women is made more visible to the public through media.
While Jagi Mangat Panda, who in the past has facilitated discussion on media and gender at FICCI believes thinks that even if media is a progressive industry, women still aren’t adequately represented in it. “The representation of women at the entry level is a lot, much equal to men but same is not the case when you go higher up. There is a certain stage where it gets a little difficult for women to grow beyond that and that is the middle management. The bottle neck comes in there,” Panda asserts.
Though diversity is the need of the hour, there are a few challenges still that don’t let women climb the higher echelons. While equal number of women enters the media industry as men, retention of women is something that the industry itself needs to work on. Better infrastructure, flexible working hours are some of the benefits not just to women will help in that scenario.
Picture credit- The Hindu