A Hard Ladder to Climb: Women and Power in Media Industries

Karen Ross

When women media professionals attain very senior editorial positions, their achievement continues to make front page news, as it is such a rare occurrence. When Jill Abramson became the first woman editor at the New York Times in 2011, she broke a run of 160 years of male editors. When Katharine Viner did the same thing at the Guardian in 2015, she ended an even longer reign of exclusively male editing history. One of the world’s most respected media institutions, the BBC, has never appointed a woman Director General since it began life under John Reith in 1922. Further, its publication of top earner salaries in the summer of 2017 revealed startling differences, in some cases as much as 300% between women and men doing the same job. These three examples demonstrate that even media organizations which enjoy a significant reputation for their content seem to ignore issues of gender equality in relation to who produces and edits such content. 

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