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Despite gains, journalism is still an old boys club

With the news of Lisa LaFlamme replacing Lloyd Robertson as CTVNational News head anchor, you’d think women had finally won the battlefor equality.

With the news of Lisa LaFlamme replacing Lloyd Robertson as CTV National News head anchor, you’d think women had finally won the battle for equality. But, the recent symposium held at Ryerson University in Toronto on March 22, Women in the Field, uncovered otherwise.

Panelists focused on the ongoing struggle for equal treatment in the newsroom while addressing topics ranging from parenthood and success to international assignments and occupational stability.

Kathy English, public editor at the Toronto Star, said most women she’s spoken to feel there is still a glass ceiling holding women back in the industry.

“These days any inequality you experience is subtle, [and with women] there is a sense of don’t rock the boat,” said English. “It’s easy to say look how bad it used to be, but it’s not good enough yet.”

Although there is an increasing presence of women in newsrooms and journalism schools, panelists agreed executive positions are still very much held by older, white males.

“The reality is that men are still in charge in much of the world and women continue to defer to them,” said Karen Levine, documentary editor at CBC.

CBC director Sadia Zaman knows all to well how discrimination, not only against sex but also race, can put constraints on opportunities.

“It’s very discouraging as a woman of colour in this industry,” Zaman said. “If you are a woman of colour, you will not see yourself in the executive positions here in Canada.”

Visit J-Source’s blog Women in the Field: Changing the face of Journalism for play-by-play coverage of the symposium at live.j-source.ca.


WOMEN IN JOURNALISM: A TIMELINE

1846
American journalist Margaret Fuller becomes the first female foreign correspondent and travels to Europe.

1898
Canadian newspaper columnist Kit Coleman, real name Catherine Ferguson, became the first woman in the world to become a war correspondent, travelling to Cuba during Spanish-American War.

1941
Eleanor Roosevelt holds women-only news conferences that contribute to the rise of female reporters.

1971
Ms. Magazine is founded to give a voice to the feminist movement.

1976
Barbara Walters becomes the first female to co-anchor network evening news.

1990
The International Women's Media Foundation is founded with the goal of strengthening women's role in media worldwide as a means to further freedom of the press.

2007
Katie Couric becomes the first solo female anchor of the evening news for a major network.

 
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