By Mira Lowe
That’s the theme and hashtag for this year’s International Women’s Day, March 8, a global day for celebrating women’s achievements and advocating for gender equality.
“Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions — all day, every day,” the IWD 2020 campaign says. “We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.”
Imagine that being the stated objectives of every newsroom and news organization.
With this intentionality, we would not only see the closing of the gender gap between women and men in bylines, stories, positions and pay, but we would see a more accurate portrayal of the whole society.
Research published this week by the World Economic Forum found that “just 24% of news sources (people seen, heard or read about in the media) were women.”
Relying on the same or familiar voices doesn’t expand our journalism. And we can’t build trust in media either when large segments of our audiences are barely cited or ignored.
According to a 2019 Women Media Center study, male journalists continue to dominate in reporting and producing the news for prime-time broadcast news programs, print publications, wire services and online news sites. Men receive 63 percent of bylines and credits while women receive only 37 percent across all media platforms.
Think about how such inequity can impact the retention, promotion, advancement and earnings of women in the industry.
So, how do we move the needle for equality? Through collective and persistent action. By disrupting the playing field, and creating opportunities that raise the visibility, voices and vocation of women journalists.
Rather than waiting for someone else, women are blazing exciting, new paths. A few of them include:
Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora, who are co-founders of The 19th*, the newly launched news nonprofit focusing on the intersection of gender, politics and policy. Starting with a team of Andrea Valdez, Errin Haines and Johanna Derlega, they are expanding the province and ambition of political journalism by women. (Hear more from Ramshaw in a Q&A soon on our site.)
Vanessa K. De Luca, who is editor-in-chief of ZORA, a Medium publication that is unapologetically for women of color. Started last year, this digital platform is elevating fresh perspectives and unique ideas.
Angilee Shah, who is leading the charge for WomenDoNews, a new initiative focused on getting more female journalists’ stories published on Wikipedia, where entries about men reign. This project was sponsored by Take The Lead, a nonprofit seeking leadership gender parity by 2025. (I had the opportunity to participate in the TTL’s 50 Women Can Change the World in Journalism cohort last year.)
Efforts like these — individually and collectively — are forging a gender equal universe. We must support them.
As JAWS charts its course forward, we too can notably raise the game for women in journalism by: amplifying their words and their works; calling out underrepresentation in their newsrooms and boardrooms; highlighting barriers they face to advance and thrive; and supporting them at every career stage and transition.
Let’s champion #EachforEqual on International Women’s Day. Let’s also make it a year-round calling.