Combatting gender inequality in the media and empowering women through the digital sector
- Member states and media companies should take measures for the equal representation of women and men in the media
- Media should implement the policy of equal pay for equal work
- ICT education should be introduced at early stages of school to inspire girls to develop interest in the digital field
EU countries should monitor the presence of women in the media and the Commission should take action to tackle the digital gap between men and women, say MEPs.
A report on gender equality in the media sector was adopted in Plenary on Tuesday by 523 votes in favour, 97 against and 56 abstentions. It calls on member states to fully implement existing legislation addressing gender equality and to encourage regulatory bodies to monitor the presence and advancement of women in the media sector, which currently employs over one million people in the EU.
In 2015, women represented 68% of media graduates in the EU, but the percentage of women employed in the sector is languishing at 40%. Only 37% of news stories are reported by women. Less than one in five experts or commentators in the media is a woman.
The gender pay gap, a persistent issue in the UE, is 17% in the sector. In the report, MEPs reiterate that the media must urgently implement the policy of equal pay for equal work.
In the public media in the EU, where the representation of women is low on average, only around one third of executive posts are occupied by women. MEPs call on member states and media organisations to develop incentive measures for the equal representation of women and men in decision-making posts.
Put an end to stereotypical portrayal of women
MEPs recommend that gender equality plans or guidelines should be given more prominence in media organisations in order to promote a positive portrayal of women in advertising, news, reporting, production and broadcasting. They encourage member states to develop legislation focusing on non-stereotypical media content.
MEPs also urge public and private media to mainstream gender equality in all their content.
Highlighting that women in the media are encountering growing levels of harassment (half of the women employed in the media have experienced sexual abuse), MEPs encourage media companies to create safe environments that are responsive to any cases of harassment and call for specific measures, including awareness-raising, internal rules on sanctions for offenders, and psychological and legal support for victims.
Empowering women and girls through the digital sector
In a separate resolution also adopted on Tuesday by show of hands, MEPs call on the Commission to address the severe gender gap with the ICT sector, by better exploiting and targeting its Digital Agenda and Digital Single Market Strategy. They also encourage member states to introduce ICT education in the early stages of school, with a focus on inspiring girls to develop an interest and talent in the digital field.
Today in Europe, almost 8 million people are working in the ICT sector, but only 16% of them are women. A 2013 Commission report revealed that equal participation of women in the ICT sector would lead to a gain of around 9 billion euros to the EU GDP every year.
The rapporteur on the report on gender equality in the media sector, Michaela Šojdrová (EPP, CZ), said: ‘‘Women account for 68% of graduates in journalism. Their representation among media employees is only 40% and they rarely hold leadership or decision-making positions. It also turns out that women are not represented in expert positions in the media. Public and private media are an essential component of a democratic society and an information resource. Their structure and manner of operation should therefore reflect the composition of society.’’
The MEP in charge of the digital sector file, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz (EPP, PL), said: ‘‘We cannot allow and we cannot afford that women are excluded from the digital revolution that happens in the workplace, the market and our everyday lives. We need to urgently identify the causes of the digital gender gap and take up action to end and prevent it. We call for concrete initiatives, such as obligatory and universal access to coding and ICT classes. We also take a stand to combat stereotypes early on to give girls and women an opportunity to fully use their talents in the digitalised world.’’