While representation of women and men is roughly equal in major
newsrooms across the country, women continue to be appointed to junior
positions and to be restricted to covering softer topics compared with
their male counterparts, a survey released yesterday said, writes Thom Mclachlan in Business Day.

“With 45% women in newsrooms, compared with 33% in a 1995 study, there is a progressive move towards achieving gender balance in newsrooms,” said Thabo Leshilo, deputy chairman of the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) .

Despite the progress, there were still issues that had to be dealt with, according to findings from SA’s nine major media houses, including the SABC, Media 24, the Citizen, Primedia and Johncom.

Colleen Lowe Morna, executive director at Gender Links, which collaborated on the survey, said a lack of seniority and of top-level roles for women was apparent in some newsrooms, while in others women held the majority of top posts.

“Several newsrooms don’t have any women at top and senior management positions. However, others, like Kaya FM and Primedia, have well over half women at top and senior management levels.”

She said women occupied fewer than 30% of top management posts.

Lowe said that while black men’s representivity at senior levels had increased from 16% in 1996 to 23,5% last year, the racial divide still existed for black women, whose representation was a mere 6%.

Click here to read the whole report, posted on Business Day's website.