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Research Shows Gender Gap in Turkey's Media Management

FILE - Journalists work in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 31, 2018. When it comes to gender equality in Turkish media, men still dominate managerial roles, research by a journalist union has found.  
FILE - Journalists work in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 31, 2018. When it comes to gender equality in Turkish media, men still dominate managerial roles, research by a journalist union has found.  

When it comes to gender equality in Turkish media, men are still dominating managerial roles, research by a journalist union has found.

The Journalists' Union of Turkey, known as the TGS, released its latest findings on gender disparities in Turkish media to mark the country's Working Journalists' Day on Wednesday.

"Once again, we see that those who produce, go after and edit news stories are women, and those who manage media institutions are men in Turkish media," Banu Tuna, the TGS secretary-general, told VOA.

The union analyzed 10 newspapers, 10 TV channels, four news agencies and six news websites.

Nearly half of the journalists in Turkey are women, but the survey showed that only four women hold senior positions such as editor in chief or managing editor among Turkey's leading newspapers.

The research also showed that only a few women hold senior positions in the TV channels' organizational structures, and those who do tend to work in advertising or public relations departments.

The gender imbalance in managerial positions was lower in Turkey's digital media, where the report found websites doing "relatively better" than TV and print.

"While the presence of female journalists among the editor and reporter staff is undeniable, we saw once again that there is literally 'no name of a woman' in the mastheads and in the senior management staff," the TGS wrote.

The union said that when female journalists cannot progress in their careers, they "move away from the profession due to the glass ceiling."

A call for more inclusive media

The World Economic Forum's 2023 Global Gender Gap Report ranks Turkey 129th among 146 countries for gender equality — where 1 shows the best environment — and 133rd out of 146 in economic participation and opportunity.

The gender imbalance adds to challenges for Turkish journalists, who watchdogs already say contend with censorship and political and legal pressure.

"We are in an increasingly authoritarian environment. There are very challenging conditions for both journalism and women's struggle," said Evin Baris Altintas. "There is a need to fight for a more inclusive media for both women and different groups, but the lack of awareness on this issue is obvious."

A co-chair of the Istanbul-based Media and Law Studies Association, Altintas has worked in journalism since 2005.

Another issue is the cost of living, with most media outlets based in Istanbul, the largest and most expensive Turkish city.

Work/family life challenges women

Ceren Sozeri, an associate professor of communication at Galatasaray University in Istanbul, said that women often have to balance their journalism career with domestic roles.

"In Turkey, women are responsible for the care, domestic labor and raising children," Sozeri told VOA. "Women journalists are forced to make choices in the dilemma of marriage and raising their children."

He For She Turkey, a United Nations-initiated project, states that women do three times as much unpaid house and care work as men worldwide, while this discrepancy reaches almost five times more unpaid house and care work for women in Turkey.

Tuna, who has worked in journalism for 25 years, said that the media sector is male-dominated.

"I have heard many male executives say that the editorial desk is not for women. They again blamed women for the lack of women in managerial positions," she told VOA.

"According to them, working in the editorial office is a very arduous job that requires long hours, and women do not want it," Tuna added.

Cultural norms can also make it harder for women to progress.

"While a man can go to dinner or a tavern with his boss or manager after work, women have less room here, as a woman's going out to dinner with her manager can also be interpreted as an affair," Sozeri said.

"Therefore, when favoritism comes before merit, men again have room for career advancement," Sozeri noted.

To close the gender gap in Turkish media management, Sozeri thinks that "working conditions, overtime working and domestic labor roles must change."

Tuna of TGS said having more women in leadership in media would be a positive move.

"If there were more women in executive positions, if the few rising women were not expected to become masculinized, I'm sure a lot would change in the Turkish media," Tuna told VOA.

"The biggest problems today are not getting equal pay for equal work, not being able to work in managerial positions, and all kinds of gendered violence. If the media were not a boys' club, all these problems would be improved."

This story originated in VOA's Turkish Service.