Britain is producing an impressive amount of female journalism graduates. But once they leave school, are they becoming journalists? Yes, suggests a new piece of research from City University, London, but not necessarily with national dailies.
Just over a week ago, Kira Cochrane published an article in The Guardian, noting a lack of women in British media. Cochrane ran an initiative to count all the bylines in Monday to Friday editions of seven national newspapers over a four week period. The results were combined with an analysis on the number of women who appeared on Radio 4's the Today programme to produce a final figure: 77.4% of the journalists surveyed were male.
The results were of a peace with a survey conducted by the advocacy group Women in Journalism this March. The study pointed to the low proportion of women working in UK national dailies, as well as to the fact that female journalists held fewer senior positions.
But if a low proportion of women in the UK are working in newspapers, a high percentage are qualified for the job. When Cochrane's Guardian article came out, and the results were published by journalism.co.uk, City University's Journalism department tweeted:
"Interesting: 68% of our students in last 5 years female. MT @journalismnews Guardian study: 22.6% of journalists female http://t.co/NOsTtxRw"
Could these figures suggest that the tables are starting to turn, and we'll be seeing more female journalists? Or are female journalists not getting the jobs once they graduate?
City University has tried to find out. Using data from 452 alumni who had graduated from City's prestigious journalism courses between 2006 and 2008 (out of a total in 620), the department tried to discover where they are employed.
According to City, of the 406 surveyed 2006-2008 graduates who were working in journalism, 61% were female, 39% were male.
The results suggested that female journalists were getting jobs, but they were concentrated in broadcasting and magazines. Of graduates employed in broadcast journalism 68.4% were women. Of those working in magazines, 67.5% were female.
Men still had a stronger presence in newspaper journalism: 54.3% of graduates employed by newspapers were male. In keeping with Cochrane's study, male presence seems especially striking in national newspapers: 21 male graduates from City's newspaper journalism course were working for national newspaper, compared to 15 female ones.
City's article emphasized that the study was a "rudimentary snapshot, not an in-depth piece of research." Yet the results suggest that female journalism graduates are finding jobs in their field, but that national dailies are doing a relatively poor job of keeping up with the trend.
Several notable figures in journalism education have made comments on the possible rise of female journalists. Professor and Head of Journalism at City University George Brock does so here, where he speculates that "the future of international journalism is...female." Still, he links to another article that suggests industry leaders may be slow at catching on.
David Klatell, Vice Dean responsible for international development at Columbia Journalism School, speaking at a conference hosted by the Ecole de journalisme de Sciences Po, Paris, said that it was "no surprise" to him that two of the school's new young faculty members were women. "I suspect that's going to be a trend," he told the audience.
Let's hope the UK's national newspapers get with the programme.
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