‘Diversity initiatives performative’: Women populate newsrooms, not top roles, says Reuters study

Japanese outlets included in the survey had no top women editors; the US had the most.

WrittenBy:NL Team
A usual staircase in front of male employee alongside an 'Editor' signage and steep stairs the female.

Across 240 news outlets on five continents, women make up only 24 percent of the top editors, and men hold the top positions even at media organisations where women outnumber men, as per a report released by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.  

The report – titled Women and leadership in the news media 2024: Evidence from 12 markets – was released on Friday and looked at the top 10 online and offline news outlets in each of the 12 markets across the US, the UK, Japan, Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong, Germany, South Africa, Spain, Kenya, Brazil, and Mexico. The survey did not include the Indian news market. 

As per the study, none of the Japanese news outlets included in the survey had women as top editors. The percentage of top women editors in Mexico was six percent, while it was 13 percent in Kenya and 20 percent in South Korea. With 45 percent women as top editors in the US and 40 percent in the UK, the two countries topped the chart. 

‘Superficial’ initiatives for diversity

Citing journalist Shirish Kulkarni, the report said that many are warning that the media industry’s approach towards diversity is “superficial” and “performative”. It added that the trend remained unchanged for even the countries that score well on the UN Gender Inequality Index, and that a lack of diversity contributes to a deficiency in public trust. 

It said initiatives to ensure “diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging” are reportedly “fading”, and are faced with “coordinated and explicit backlash” from the right-wing in some countries.    

However, despite “internal” dynamics stunting women’s career progression in newsrooms, more women work as journalists across the markets, except the US, said the report. 

It also highlighted a “weak positive correlation between the percentage of women working as journalists and the percentage of women among top editors, and the absence of a correlation between overall gender equality in society and the percentage of women among top editors”. 

The report, however, said that as per the data collected for five years across 10 markets, the percentage of women among the top editors has marginally increased from 23 percent in 2020 to 25 percent in 2024.

Complaining about the media is easy. Why not do something to make it better? Support independent media and subscribe to Newslaundry today.

General elections are around the corner, and Newslaundry and The News Minute have ambitious plans together. Choose an election project you would like to support and power our journalism. Click here.

Also see
article imageDalits in media, diversity in Cong, party mistakes: A 2-hour tryst with Rahul Gandhi
article imageNo diversity, govt dependent, paying the price: State of the media at event in memory of Gauri Lankesh
article imageHow much is too much? Modi slams media for ‘suppressing’ news about his ‘public service’


We take comments from subscribers only!  Subscribe now to post comments! 
Already a subscriber?  Login

You may also like