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Women Science Journalists Share Experiences

The World Conference of Science Journalists provides a platform to discuss skills and tools but also state of the trade. I attended a session to look at the challenges that women science journalists experience, and I documents my experience below. The main conclusion: women know their rights now more that ever before and must stand up and be counted as professional journalists and as freelancers.

During the session on Women science journalists meet up, we broke out into four sessions: The ceiling, balance, harassment and stories.

Cecilia Rosen, a freelance journalist from Mexico set the stage by explaining her observation that women tend to earn less than their male counterparts. Participants complained that women often entered the job market at a lower salary level. And furthermore, promotion is not equal. Cecilia has a PhD and 15 years experience in journalism, but still earns less for her feature stories then her male counterparts. “We feel more comfortable with this kind of thing. We need to ask for more money,”she says. “Women don’t ask for money. I am 36 years old. I only started asking for money recently after completing my PHD,” she goes on to explain. “I began to inquire how much I would be paid whenever I was called upon for an assignment. I previously never did this,” she concludes.

Therese Luthi, who works for a Sunday paper in Switzerland, agrees that disparities in pay still exist.“I earn more than some of my male colleagues but that’s because I changed newspapers twice,” she said, explaining that editors tend to offer a pay hike in those circumstances. Women tend to try and give the bosses a good impression, which in the end doesn’t help because then the boss doesn’t feel pressure to increase the pay.

Adelaide has been doing research for 20 years. “Its okay to work but if you want flexibility, for example to leave work early to check on the children, women feel its okay to earn less,” she says. “We are willing to fight less for the salary”.

Diana Lillo from Chile realized that she has been charging too little for assignments. She has been working as a freelance journalist without a contract. “I now have a contract and make sure I sign it for each job,” she explains, and that has improived her situation.

It was good to get together with fellow women journalists from around the world. Things are improving, and awareness of the unfair disparity that exists between men and women has never been higher, but there’s still much to do. It’s time for women to stand up and be counted as professional journalists and as freelancers, on a par with their male colleagues.

Opinions expressed in the blog posts are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of WCSJ2019

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