In the past, women were seen to be powerless creatures. They are not capable of handling jobs other than household tasks and taking care of children. Back in the olden days, they were treated no higher than slaves. Even if they are married to kings and rich men or born of well-off families, the image of women remained to be the same. However, this perception of women has gradually changed through the years.
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One of the notable events in history accorded to women is the recognition of their right to vote. Before, only men were granted political and other civil rights; women had no right at all. In the advent of granting women their political and civil rights, they were given more power in the society, and the understanding of their capabilities as well as limitations was enhanced. Now, women function just like men.
Most, if not all, women have been empowered and now have the courage to face the corporate world and compete with men. Many women have gained social recognition for their achievements in the field that they have chosen to take. A number of them have fairly succeeded and have even surpassed the achievements of their male counterparts. The same goes true for almost any economic field. In the world of communication, women's image has begun to take shape and leap to greater heights.
Women in Broadcast Media
If before, only men were seen to be anchoring news programs on television, now, a fair number of women are beginning to be seen in news casts. According to Weaver and Wilhoit (1996), the average number of years of journalism experience was 12 for women and 15 for men. These figures indicate that although women have not stayed long enough as men have been in the field of journalism; they are trying to catch up. Compared to other professions, journalism seems to have a better representation than men.
Aside from the said findings, Weaver and Wilhoit (1996) also discovered that women who are working for media outfits have begun to play major roles and greater responsibilities. Among the tasks that many women now enjoy in the field of journalism are upper level positions such as managerial and supervisory positions.
Based on the data gathered by Weaver and Wilhoit (1996), the percentage of women in the news medium is as follows: radio 29 percent; television 24.8 percent; wire services 25.9 percent; daily newspapers 33.9 percent; weekly newspapers 44.1 percent and news magazines 45.9 percent. Although the number of women who have joined the broadcast media only consists of a small percentage compared to other fields, the increase from the figures in 1971 is remarkable because back then, only 10.7 percent of the total population are women. It has also been indicated in the findings that most of the women who are being employed by media outfits are 25 years old and younger. Although there are also some who fall to higher age categories, the number of women in this age group has the most significant number as they comprise nearly half of the total population.
Reasons Why Women Begin to Infiltrate the Media
The influx of young women in the journalistic field could be explained by the shifting media trends. New media technologies have shifted the focus of the media to terrorist-led combats and guerrillas. Such change in focus requires flexibility and ability to improvise, which women journalists can adequately do. Moreover, women journalists also offer more sensitivity in the way they handle their stories. Unlike men, women are more emotional and adept in providing human interest angles in the stories that they report. Through the employment of women in the broadcast media, reportage of wars are not only limited to conflicts, but it also includes the “collateral damage“, created by wars. Aside from adding sensitivity to reportage, women journalists are employed for their attractiveness and the novelty of their presence in the news (Chambers, Steiner, & Fleming, 2004).
The fact that women, who were initially perceived by the society as the weaker sex, can withstand the dangers brought by the event that they are reporting already catches attention; more so if the reporter exhibits a great appeal.
The attractiveness of women adds a pleasing distraction to war reportage. Women presence in the news somehow neutralizes the chaotic situation being presented.
Salary and Job Satisfaction
Based on 1971 data, women were paid less than men and their number was a lot smaller. However, there were a greater percentage of them who indicated satisfaction for their jobs. Men were less satisfied with their work as journalists. However, the succeeding decade, 1981, no longer indicate similar assumption. Men and women in the broadcast media have communicated their desire to remain in the journalism field for the succeeding years.
However, a significant drop was registered in the satisfaction of the journalists in their job, regardless of gender. In 1992, 22 percent of the members of the media indicated their desire to join other outfits other than media companies. This is a significant change since 1971 wherein only seven percent desired to seek job opportunities outside the media circle. This trend does not prove to be similar in other jobs.
According to Norris and Shorenstein (1997), this figure would indicate that there is a growing problem in the journalistic field that is causing media people to lose satisfaction in their jobs. Such dissatisfaction does not arise from gender but on other factors affecting the way journalists perform their role as gatekeepers.
In terms of news priorities, men and women do not exhibit significant differences. However, women journalists have a greater tendency to consider it extremely important to avoid writing stories that are based on unverified facts. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to focus on entertainment and relaxation stories and angles. Journalists from both genders also exhibit interest in stories that investigate the claims that the government makes and the reaction of the public to these assertions (Norris & Shorenstein, 1997). This is one way of complying with the role of the media as the fourth estate.
Journalists are granted with the power to shape public opinion through the news that they relay to the public. Given with such power, they are mandated by journalism ethics and standards to function as the society's watchdog. They are supposed to investigate and look into the activities of the government and report them to the people. Journalists from both genders have exhibited their desire to fulfill such role. This suggests that women are not afraid to deal with tough issues and can very well compete with men. Contrary to common belief, women have been empowered and can accomplish any task as any man could do. However this empowerment that many women have experienced has not really resulted in the recognition of equality among the sexes. Some claim that there is still a notion of male supremacy in terms of decision making functions (Ross and Byerly, 2004).
The role that women have portrayed in the broadcast media for the recent decade has shown that women are also capable of doing what men can do and even more. The empowerment and recognition that women have experienced in the broadcast industry only indicates that there is a greater room for women advancement so long as they are given the chance to exhibit their talent. In this regard, there is a need to give women a greater avenue to show their prowess and be fully recognized in the field that they desire to take.
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