European Federation of Journalists

Belgium: Study shows woman journalists are leaving the job

Female journalists in the French-speaking part of Belgium are leaving their jobs making a very low proportion of them in the media, said in a recent study published by the EFJ member the Belgian professional association of journalists (AJP) for the French-speaking region.

“We have a very low proportion of female journalists (35%) in French-speaking Belgium”, explained Sophie Lejoly, General Depute Secretary of AJP. “However, there are more female students than male, and slightly more women entering the profession. So the reason for the low figure is that these female journalists left their jobs at some point.” The study shows that the gap widens from the age of 30 onwards and the presence of women drops sharply after the age of 40. After the age of 55, only 20% of women are left. There are two explanations for this phenomenon: either women entered the editorial staff very late or they tend to leave the profession earlier than men.

According to the study, female journalists tends to leave their job earlier because of pervasive precariousness, dissatisfaction about working conditions, a lack of appreciation on the part of company hierarchies, the working atmosphere in newsrooms and the physical and mental consequences of working as a journalist such as illnesses, abnormal stress and exhaustion. In particular, it highlighted the issue of sexism, harassment and the male-dominated atmosphere. Even the male colleagues acknowledged that the media environment is a male-dominated world in which they feel that women must prove their skills more. Worse still, the study shows that woman journalists earn far less than their male counterparts. The average income of female journalists is 16% lower than their male colleagues.

The AJP will use the results of the study to campaign for more equality in the newsrooms in 2019 and 2020. It will push for the measures and actions recommended by the study to improve the reconciliation of private and professional life, training for female journalists in the negotiation of employment and working conditions, training in soft management and the implementation of a sponsorship system, without gender distinction. The EFJ will organize a workshop with the topic “Increasing diversity and gender equality in the workplace” on 28 / 29 May in Istanbul. Apart from that, a gender equality charter is considered. The whole study can be downloaded here:

Photo credit: AJP