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Canadian women in news still hit glass ceiling: study

A survey of how women participate in the news media work force in 59 countries ranked the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as one of the bright spots when it comes to gender equity. And Canada's news media provides better opportunities for women than in most other countries.

But when it comes to women advancing high up the ladder in Canadian media organizations, there is still plenty of room for improvement, researchers found. Here is a news release summarizing the findings:

Canadian women journalists hit the glass ceiling in senior management despite making gains that reached parity or exceeded it at most other levels, according to a global report of women in news released by the International Women's Media Foundation Wednesday.

The Canadian survey, which was led by Mary Lynn Young, associate professor and director of the University of British Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and Alison Beale, professor and director of the Simon Fraser University School of Communication, found that women were "under-represented" in key roles in governance and senior management.

Women accounted for nearly 40 per cent of top-level management and one quarter (26 per cent) of governance roles. They were also likely to be underpaid when they reached senior management with men making significantly more money.

"These results are disappointing but not surprising," said Young. "The good news is that women are making significant progress at most of the other levels."

Women overall have hit parity with men in terms of numbers up to the glass ceiling. For example, 55 per cent of executive editors, bureau chiefs and news directors in Canada were women, 50 per cent of middle managers and 54.8 per cent of the producers, writers and directors.

These results position Canada overall as one of the 59 nations in the global study that stands out as making greater strides for women. Globally, according to the IWMF, women represent only a third (33 per cent) of full-time workers in journalism at 522 companies surveyed.

Areas that still need attention in Canada are the production and technical arenas, which were "strongly male dominated." Women were also the majority (nearly two-thirds) of those in support roles, e.g., sales, account management, secretarial.  

The Canadian part of the study examined women in news at 11 companies and media institutions in 2009 including five newspapers, three television stations, and three radio stations. It was part of a two-year international study on the status of women in news, providing data on approximately 14,000 employees, including 7,538 men and 6,262 women in Canada. All of the companies surveyed were provided anonymity.

In terms of policy, more than half of the Canadian institutions surveyed (55 per cent) had a policy on gender equity and less than one in five offered childcare assistance.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. was one of a six media institutions globally identified as having a strong record of gender equity in its region.

The study's sponsor was the International Media Women's Foundation in Washington, D.C.

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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