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Why are women underrepresented in the media?

Each week we ask two writers with contrasting opinions to answer THE question…


THE MARGINALISATION of women in the media means that those in the industry already stand out more than their male counterparts. They are then held accountable for women in the media as a whole, while men in the media are given individual responsibility.

This does not mean women already in the media are less aggressive than men. In fact, they are often portrayed as aggressors with masculine characteristics. But it is telling that there does not seem to be many women in the media succeeding with non-aggressive qualities.

I am typically ‘non-aggressive’; I will wait before following up an email that hasn’t been answered. I get annoyed about being ignored, and often recoil rather than email consistently until I get what I want. I’ve asked once, twice even three times, ‘they have seen it, right?’

As a freelancer I am told constantly I’m not aggressive enough and often told to push things to levels I would consider borderline rude to get what I want. All of which feels unnatural to me, but necessary to the situation.

At the same time I am only too aware that every meeting I walk into, every event, every room I’ve sat in I have been one of the only women in a sea of men who isn’t just a hanger-on. I am also aware it is mostly men who have helped me in my career because women who want to help are few and far between.

Before I’ve opened my mouth I am regarded as just a girl. I’ve been dismissed with flirty remarks, or had inappropriate comments made by men I am meeting for the first time. When men meet men this does not happen.

When I do open my mouth the first five minutes of any conversation and encounter is spent redressing the balance and establishing myself in a position where my voice is heard and boundaries are made clear. This involves a level of aggression I would not normally use.

The media is a fiercely competitive industry; one where being nice first and forceful later doesn’t always work out. I have witnessed bright, talented women sell themselves short and play the wallflower rather than use the same aggressive tactics men in the media display. This may have short-term success but doesn’t lend itself to the career growth and level of seniority women in the media want or deserve.



WE ARE living in the 21st century – a world where social attitudes are changing. There are many examples of highly liberated women who are celebrated through their rigorous, yet professional, practices. Over the years we have seen suggestions and clear-cut examples that illustrate how far women have come in reversing the social changes in gender roles within competitive industries like the media.

As a young woman breaking into the media, I have strong admiration for gutsy females who are not afraid to break the so-called outdated perceptions of the ‘dainty’ woman. I recently entered a process involving the creation of a TV series produced by a group of ambitious reporters, and the females happen to outnumber the males.

The majority of males who applied for my role weren’t hired because they simply lacked the passion needed to fulfill the task at hand. I, for one, have personally observed females across all industries within the public eye over the years in awe of their influential status. Without these women to look up to, my personal ambitions would cease to exist.

Underrepresented? No. There are handfuls of women who dismiss this statement. Take Anna Wintour, for example, an expert who is emulated by both males and females due to her renowned 'aggressive' personality. We also have Deborah Meaden to look up to – one of the UK’s high-flying successful businesswomen in a male-dominated industry.

Another fantastic example is sporting executive and TV personality Karren Brady. She continues to flourish and surpass the expected boundaries of a woman, possessing the authoritative flair all women need to get to the top.

These respected women have undoubtedly used their 'aggression' to receive a highly sought after career status. However, why is it that successful aggressive men are deemed as powerful, yet if you put a powerful woman in the exact same scenario she is deemed aggressive without a second thought?

Would ITN News reporter Charlene White be in her position if she lacked assertiveness? I doubt it. But is she seen as aggressive? Perhaps not. Either way, she has earned respect and a career for herself, and I fully believe that meekness and lack of confidence are attributes that will not gain anyone any recognition.

Stating that women lack aggression is just another way of weakening our image as women. The fact is, society tells us that women have to inherit some form of aggression in order not to be objectified by their male counterparts, so if aggression is usually what women have to use to gain parity with males, let it be.

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