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Funny thing happened these past few months: I decided that having what my colleague said was necessary for journalism, having a “fire in your belly” (or perhaps in my case a “volcano in my uterus”, as the fire in belly term is associated with men’s movement stuff) for the job, isn’t enough for me. I want more.

But make no mistake about it: my decisions to leave my job isn’t what I would consider voluntary. I am not part of the opt-out generation of career-mothers, although that is exactly how my decision may be dismissed by higher-ups. (Even though my plans include free-lancing while completing a masters degree in another field.)

What happened to me, has happened to many other female journalists around me.

It is this: when things get tough, when times are hard at work, when downsizing happens, when a bully rules the workplace, when layoffs become the rule and each journalist is supposed to be enormously thankful to have a job, to be able to type the text dictated by editors and management, the first to be squeezed out are the women.

Men are amazingly mobile: they move to friendlier sections like sports (a section two men went to in order to escape my biz editor, another two went to the city section and provincial section), more reasonable editors. They leave one newspaper to take a job with another. They find work with the public radio station. Doors open for men.

Not so for women. (And anybody who doesn’t fit the mold perhaps? Like immigrants.

Over the past year, no less than four of the best female journalists and editors have been pushed out of this workplace, by one particular bullying, misogynist editor. The bullying affects everybody – hence the many men who are trying, and able, to get out from under his thumb. The misogyny is only for the women, of course, which makes it worse for the women.

But are these talented, intelligent, experienced, amazingly capable female journalists able to find jobs in other sections, with other newspapers, with other media? No. Each and every one has left the journalism field entirely. I will be the next one: I am returning to school with the idea of expanding my horizons. I have a million plans and feel quite satisfied about where I have landed and where I am going.

But still: when times get hard it’s always the women who are pushed out the door, leaving more space for the men to make their mark, continuing their careers pretty much unhampered.

Ladies first.

 

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