JAWS Code of Conduct

The Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS) is committed to providing a welcoming, inclusive, supportive and safe environment for all, regardless of gender, gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, nationality, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, religion, socioeconomic status or political beliefs.

Our stated mission — to support the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and to work toward a more accurate portrayal of the whole society — is reflective of our organizational values: truth, respect, diversity, encouragement and support.

The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to enable courageous, generous and honest conversations, which are essential to achieving our mission. Our intention is to develop a culture of understanding and cooperation that will help us learn from each other, elevate each other and overcome challenges together.

Our values:

Truth: We believe our profession demands the veracity of our words and images. To be credible and trustworthy journalists, truth is our first obligation. The same is true for our organization. Truth in practice requires the transparent pursuit and publishing of facts and accurate information.

Respect: We believe everybody deserves to be treated with dignity, civility and empathy. How we engage with one another sets the tone for our membership and organization.

Diversity: We believe in a diverse and inclusive organization that values different backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints. Diversity makes us stronger and wiser.

Encouragement: We believe there is power in uplifting one another. We seek to give women journalists the confidence, courage and drive to shine in work and life.

Support: We believe in equity for women journalists, advocating for more and advanced opportunities in newsrooms, the accurate portrayal of the whole society, and cultivating the next generation of news leaders.

These principles guide our Code of Conduct for the JAWS community of members, supporters, volunteers, speakers, event attendees, staff and the Board of Directors.

This Code applies to all spaces managed by JAWS, which includes events, forums, the listserv, social platforms and websites. Those who violate the Code could be reprimanded for their conduct and/or excluded from activities, services or the organization (without refund of fees, registrations or dues.)

What we are OK with:

  • Be respectful. We are journalists, so we expect healthy conversation and passionate debate. We also expect you to keep comments and exchanges professional and civil.
  • Be considerate and patient. You are your sister’s keeper and responsible for how you respond to a fellow JAWdess.
  • Be self-aware while honoring the uniqueness and individuality of other members.
  • Be mindful of the boundaries of good taste, humor and personal space. What may be perceived by you as kidding or amusing may not be perceived as such by the recipient.
  • Be open to different perspectives and lived experiences. Seek to understand why a person holds a certain point of view.

What we are NOT OK with:

We do not condone harassing, demeaning, discriminatory or exclusionary behavior of any kind. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Racist or offensive jokes and language
  • Microaggressions – verbal or behavioral slights or insults
  • Personal attacks that ridicule, shame or degrade another member
  • Threatening language or violent acts
  • Physical intimidation, stalking or following
  • Displaying or posting sexually explicit or violent material
  • Displaying or posting material that seeks to embarrass or disparage a member
  • Uninvited sexual attention, touching or advances
  • Sustained disruption of sessions or events
  • Advocating or encouraging any of the above actions

Anyone who feels they have been harassed, threatened, intimidated or discriminated against while at a JAWS event or in a virtual JAWS space (listserv or social media), who witnesses such incidents or who has other concerns should alert a JAWS board member, staffer or onsite organizer, and send a complaint to . The grievance will be reviewed accordingly. In case of a criminal act, please also contact the appropriate authorities.

Also, see our Social Media and Listserv Policy here.

Adopted by JAWS Board of Directors on January 16, 2019.