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DM2014: More women on the back page and fewer fluffy socialites in PR

11 April 2014

More women experts, more women on NUJ structures and more women on the back pages were called for during the equality section of DM.

Conference heard that the union enjoys a good reputation for its equality work in the UK and Ireland and, with its campaigning work with the International  Federation of Journalists, across the globe.

Phil Morcom, co-chair of the Public Relations & Communications industrial council, said a report by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations found that 93 per cent of people in the PR industry are white and that the pay gap between men and women is £12,000.

Debbie Cavaldoro said the days were long gone when PR was a place for retired hacks to go to the dark side and a place for fluffy, socialite women to spend their time before getting married. She said that now PR is chosen as a lifelong career, it needs to be one where equality issues are addressed.

Lena Calvert, NUJ equality officer, said women journalist are often met with harassment and abuse and social media has made this much worse. 

Angela Haggerty, who has been a victim of online abuse, said:

"Employers expect journalists to use social media, but don't have any measures in place to protect or support journalists facing abuse. I'd like to see the NUJ working with employers to achieve this."

DM supported a motion proposed by Katie Hall, member of the equality council, calling on the NEC to campaign to promote more women sports journalists by working with sports organisations and providing training for women who want to move into sports reporting. She said:

“The NUJ’s submission to a government inquiry into women’s sport noted that just two of the Press Gazette’s top 50 sports journalists in 2012 were women. Just 5 per cent of the Sports Journalists' Associations 700 members were women. By co-incidence just 5 per cent of sports coverage is of women.”

Mindy Ran, joint chair of the Equality Council, said research had shown that if you ask a man to stand for a position (for example in a union) they would say yes the first or second time of asking; for women it took seven times. She said:

“So it is worth asking and asking again. If we all stand for equality, then we must take action to make sure it happens."

Nina Bryant, of the newly-formed Essex branch, spoke to a motion that asked DM to condemn the "inaccurate dumb blonde stereo-type of so-called Essex girls perpetuated in programmes such as The Only Way is Essex".  She said:

"When I went to university, I was shocked to be judged and mocked almost immediately for my accent, for a perceived level of low intellect and for my class."

Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary, congratulated the organisers of the inaugural women’s conference in Ireland. A motion praising the conference also brought in a discussion about the issue of abortion and a woman’s right to choose in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Conference agreed to remind journalists to ensure fair and free reporting of all sides of that debate. It instructed NEC to provide support and materials to branches  to enable this and to “actively support any campaign to have British abortion legislation extended to Northern Ireland”.

Strong dissent came from Michael Fisher, chair of the Northern Ireland Committee, Irish executive council, who warned that journalists in Northern Ireland could be compromised if the union adopted a partisan position.

Tags: , equality, equal pay, sports, PR, ireland, abortion, dm2014, democracy, conference, new media, social media, iec, threats, sexism, stereotypes, northern ireland, women in the nuj, reps