A global need for an equal industry

Today in the UK is Equal Pay Day, where The Fawcett Society, a campaign group promoting gender equality and women’s rights, says that both genders will be paid equal only by 2117.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK’s equivalent to the US Census Bureau, women are paid 7.2 percent less than men. Their median earnings are £16.30 ($21.51) an hour, while men’s median earnings are £17.57 ($23.18) an hour.

In the United States, women are paid 86 percent of their male counterparts, according to data from the US Census Bureau. Their median earnings are $48,597, compared to men whose median earnings are $56,430.

In both Britain and the US, the subject of the gender pay gap has been at the center of conversation, especially in journalism. The BBC recently made headlines for the differences in how they pay male and female journalists and personalities. Female journalists at the broadcaster took to Twitter to advocate for equal pay for men and women.

It also sparked this tweet from Greg James, a DJ on Radio 1, the BBC’s popular music network, which also airs Newsbeat, designed for younger audiences.

In the US, The Wall Street Journal was one of the publications which was part of the debate on journalism’s gender pay gap, where they pay women 85 percent of their male colleagues – which had raised concerns especially with a lack of women in the publication’s management.

Men and women enter journalism and the media for the same reasons – to inform, engage and educate, and to make a difference in their communities. Women play just as equal of a role as men, and their work has an impact not just on the communities themselves, but for journalism as a profession.

The debate may go beyond the shores of the United States, but the goals remain the same. We owe it to ourselves, to quote James, to shout about it. We owe it to ourselves to fight for equal pay for men and women, and for the opportunities that come with it. We owe it to ourselves to not take for granted the contributions made by women in journalism. We owe it to ourselves to emphasize every day why women are needed in this industry, and how they make journalism stronger with all they do.

We can do this, and we must – not just for our sake, but for journalism’s.

Alex Veeneman is a freelance journalist in Minneapolis and a member of SPJ’s Ethics and FOI Committees. You can interact with him on Twitter @alex_veeneman.

The views expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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