Australia is seemingly a country with equal career opportunities for men and women. But an analysis of the media in Australia highlights the sexism in journalism in this country.
One example of the negative portrayal of women in Australian media is the treatment that the first female Prime Minster Julie Gillard faced during her term in office. She was criticized for what she wore, questioned on her personal life – radio presenter Howard Sattler questioned whether her partner was gay because he was a hairdresser – faced sexist jokes and opposition leader Tony Abbot often questioned her ability on the basis of her gender, cultivating in her giving her famous “misogyny speech“. Gillard has since spoken about the sexism she faced from the Australian media.
Women in sports journalism face a number of problems stemming from sexism. Erin Molar, a female sports reporter, was questioned on how many sportsmen she had slept with, and asked whether she had had a breast augmentation. Male reporters in the same field are never asked similar questions. Women’s sport is also under-reported in Australia compared to men’s sport. Further, when women’s sport is reported on, it is often to a different standard than men’s sport, for example, tennis player Eugenie Bouchard was asked to “twirl” to show off her outfit during the Australian Open.
As well as sexism in political and sports reporting in Australia, this inequity leads back into the newsrooms of broadcast journalism. A study conducted by Monash University found alarming results about how women were treated in newsrooms, which largely had a “blokey culture” even though most university students enrolled in Journalism courses are female.
Successful female journalists acknowledge the sexism they face in their career. Jane Singleton, of the 7:30 Report wrote an article outlining her experiences with sexism, including when a newsroom turned up the air conditioning to make her nipples stand out. Karl Stefanovic from The Today Show conducted a sexism experiment after noticing his female co-star was often critiqued on her outfits over her job credentials.
Sexism in the Australian media and journalism is a massive issue that shows no real sign of improvement in the near future.