Women in media panel discuss gender gap, eliminating stereotypes


Five journalists from varying news sources in the area gave a talk on being a woman in the news industry on Monday in the Psychology building. Steph Langan Buy Photos

Monday evening, a panel of five women in media careers spoke to an audience about the role of women in the media and the hurdles they have to overcome to prove themselves.

Some talked about being called names such as “sweetheart” or “princess” by coworkers and sources, as well as having to work harder and smarter to prove their worth.

Others discussed trying to juggle family and a career in a way they claimed most men don’t have to. One of the main objectives of the panel discussion focused on biases these women still face in 2012, ones that are not unique to media careers.

The women discussed how the ideal woman on camera is becoming younger and how her clothes are shrinking.

“They want a newer, fresher look,” Ruthanne Gordon, a reporter for WISH TV, said to the audience.

Meanwhile, Cheryl Jackson, a freelancer for CNN, gave a warning.

“If you don’t break in (the industry) on your merit, you’re in trouble,” she said. “If you’re a young, pretty girl, be smart. You can only get so far with pretty.”

The group also highlighted instances that suggested the gender gap is not closed, especially when it comes to balancing love, marriage, family and a career.

Ashley Morelock, a producer for Fox 59, said journalism becomes one's life and that certain individuals don’t always have time to settle down. After seeing many of her friends in other careers marry during the past year, she realized she didn’t want to give her entire life to journalism and miss out on other things. She said she is changing careers at the end of her contract.

“My job is my boyfriend,” joked Carrie Ritchie, a reporter for the
Indianapolis Star.

The veterans with children discussed how they managed to do both, even though the work environment didn’t always make it easy.

Mary Beth Schneider, another reporter for the Indianapolis Star, said that years ago, when she was starting her family, she and another female coworker offered to share a beat and time-share so they could manage time at work and time at home with their young children. She said it was a golden offer for the boss because someone would always be on the beat with no conflicts.

While one was working, the other would be in charge of the children and vice versa, like a co-op.

They were denied. Arrangements like that are starting to creep into the corporate world, but it is still rare to find workplaces so accommodating for working mothers.

The women summed up the talk with a dose of reality but also hope for young women looking to make a name in their work lives and overcome the gender-specific hurdles.

Jackson said it’s “difficult but doable” and ended with a reminder.

“We’re always proving something,” she said

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