Other Half of The Media

Last week I was fortunate to meet Amanda Blair at an imitate event at the YWCA. Called 1:5:1 it is an opportunity for members to have an hour with women whose profile and work inspire us. Amanda has just quit radio after a stellar 15-year career to spend more time with her family. A decision I find inspiring.

Hearing her recall a typical day of juggling family and work reminded me of my own struggles of being a mum and my own career. A battle that has seen me give up key parts of my work, like participating on set as the hours often fall outside those of childcare.

Amanda was full of antidotes about life for women in the media. Some of it was eye watering funny, yet painfully sad.  Funny because it was too bizarre to be true yet sad because it was.

During my time with her I reflected on a book I bought last summer for $2 at a seaside cheap shop while on holiday. Called Boned it was a fictional story of a female journalist and her battle in a Sydney newsroom. She was intelligent, articulate and award winning yet she challenged the hierarchy and was ‘boned’. Clearly inspired by the very public sacking of Jessica Rowe, the author, obviously a female journalist was ‘Anonymous’.

After finishing the book I wondered if the poorly written prose was why it was anonymous or was it just systemic of being a woman in the media, and not ‘rocking the boat’. I suspect it was the latter.

Despite an increasing participation rate by women in the media, clearly we are still suffering a gender imbalance. I question if this is just generational. Whether our high number of female graduates will one day have newsrooms where women are Producers, Directors and Chief of Staff, all at once.

This fantasy I have would see sexism in newsrooms end, misogyny abolished and stories that support the choices of women. However a Report of the Expert Group Meeting on Women and the Media at the UN reminds me otherwise.

An interesting read it states that “under the pressure to succeed, many women feel impelled to adapt to the male-defined professional norms that drive most media institutions.”

After reading the report I stopped questioning why programs like 60 Minutes are obsessed with stories about women’s choices and parenting. And why they constantly choose men to produce and present them.

Why seeing female led panels on The Project is a ‘refreshing’ change. Especially when the show’s anchor is a woman.

And why films such as Miss Representation will continue to be made for years to come.

So until we really get the balance right, I choose Amanda’s inspiring words, “Find your patch of happiness and change what you can.”

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