‘Women are fed up with being told they are the problem’ in the media industry

“Women are really fed up with being told they are the problem,” said Catherine Fox, freelance writer and author of the book, ‘Stop Fixing Women’, about the barriers continuing to face women in the media industry.

Fox, along with Cathie Schnitzerling and Bri Lee, was speaking ahead of the Walkley Foundation’s Storyology conference next week where they will be discussing what it takes to effect change for women in the workplace.

Catherine Fox, freelance writer and author of Stop Fixing Women

Schnitzerling, ABC’s regional editor for Queensland and previously Ten’s director of news in both Brisbane and Sydney, said one of the challenges for women is the lack of support networks for female high achievers in the media: “Organisations do need to provide career pathways for all their staff. However, more attention needs to be paid to identifying women with potential to progress and exceed, and building pathways and support networks for them.

“It’s an old saying that leadership is a lonely place but it’s exceptionally lonely still for many women in leadership positions.

“I’m very grateful to the old-style blokes who gave me not just a start in journalism but also in elevating me to senior editorial positions. I joined quite an exclusive club which I referred to as ‘me and my ten mates’ because that was the exact make-up of the editorial leadership group. They were always supportive but they couldn’t provide the insights that I really craved, which was how did (single) working mothers manage these jobs and how did they continue to progress their careers.”

Lee, also a freelance writer whose first book, Eggshell Skull, tells of sexism in the justice system, spoke of the wider issues facing women in the workplace, saying: “One of the most common questions I’m asked is whether or not the #METOO movement is actually making a change in the legal industry and justice system. I believe it is, and I believe we have great journalism and writing to thank for this progress.

“Ronan Farrow’s award-winning journalism in bringing down Weinstein led to Tracey Spicer bringing down Don Burke. Justice isn’t one thing. Speaking truth to power – no matter how delayed – is a strong type of justice.

“All of these things are interconnected and that the progress may be too slow, but it is happening. Good journalism changes the world, and I’m proud to be living in a time where good journalism is changing what justice looks like for women in particular. My inbox is full of messages from readers who have been hugely affected by my book, and if I can be a little extra wave amongst this big tide of collective push for change, then I can feel proud of myself.”

Despite the negatives, Fox said she sees some positive developments: “My feeling is quite a few men in charge are now listening very carefully to what women are telling them. This wasn’t the result of waking up one day and suddenly deciding to share power. Instead, they have realised the reputational and business risk from ignoring women’s capacity to use social media and collective clout beyond business boundaries to push for change.”

Mumbrella is a supporter of Storyology 2018 which will take place in Brisbane on July 27-28.


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