Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORK-LIFE BALANCE / APR. 22, 2015
version 4, draft 4

Research Explores The Mental Toll On Female Journalists

Female Journalist
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The last few years have been a turbulent one in the life of the media industry, and therefore also in the lives of journalists themselves. With people increasingly consuming news online, there has been significant disruption to the industry, with considerable stress attached.

See Also: Employment Prospects Look Slim For Recent Journalism Graduates

Alas, a recent study highlights how that stress is generally not evenly distributed, with female journalists tending to suffer more than their male peers.

The study saw over 1,600 journalists, including 500 or so women, quizzed on things such as their job satisfaction, levels of stress and burnout and desire to stay in their job. The results revealed that female journalists felt more overloaded by the role, and had much higher desire to leave the profession than their male colleagues.

"Journalism, as a profession, hasn’t really grown in terms of gender as we’d hoped. So what you’re getting is a less diverse newsroom. It’s not going in a positive direction," the authors say.

The research built upon a similar study conducted back in 2009. When the data from the previous work was compared to this recent study, the trend suggested that things were getting worse for female journalists.  Back in 2009 just 62 percent said they wanted to leave the field, whereas in 2015 this has jumped to 67 percent. This compares to just 55 percent for men.

Social Impact

In a bid to find a reason, the researchers explored gender socialization theory, which basically says that society places different expectations upon us based upon our gender. So men are expected to be breadwinners and women are expected to care for the family. It’s believed that this makes women more at risk of burnout than men because of the added pressure of home expectations.

"Collectively, this group of women are classic burnout cases," the authors say. "They had higher rates of exhaustion and cynicism and felt less support from their organization. The only resolution is often to change jobs or leave the field altogether."

This matters for a number of reasons. Firstly, if we have fewer women in the media industry, fewer will climb up into management roles, which is likely to render newsrooms less female friendly places. It’s also likely to have an impact on the kind of content the industry produces, with the rise of lifestyle and features sections coinciding with the rise in female journalists in the industry.

Interestingly, the paper also reveals how fewer women are entering journalism schools at a young age, with an increasing preference for corporate communications and marketing courses.

Despite the seemingly gloomy prognosis however, the situation is not completely bleak, with the profession still exciting young people sufficiently to provide a steady stream of eager and enthusiastic journalists into the industry. Indeed, those who have embraced the new ways and models of journalism have often reported the highest levels of job satisfaction.

It remains a challenging profession to be in however, and the paper concludes with the realisation that it is not an industry for the faint of heart.

"It’s become far more difficult and complex to be a journalist," it says. "And unfortunately there are a lot of people in newsrooms right now looking for other jobs."

See Also: 5 Risks You’re Exposed to as a Field Reporter

Are you a journalist? Do you think that women have a harder time than men in the industry? Your thoughts and comments below please...

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