Even though female workers in 2018 have more options and representation than ever before, certain industries still reflect an unfortunate gender imbalance in their staff rosters. One surprising example? Journalism, a field that attracts a majority-female population in educational contexts, has still failed to update its hiring practices. According to The Women’s Media Center, 62% of news bylines come from male writers, and only 16% of Pulitzer Prize winners identify as female.
The Columbia Journalism Review recently investigated the gender discrepancy in newsrooms, and found that male-dominated journalistic environments are particularly prevalent in one subset of the industry: foreign policy op-eds. The CJR concluded that out of 3,758 foreign policy op-eds released within the last four years, only 568 (or 15%) were written by women. While female op-ed authorship is on the rise, pieces focused on foreign policy objectives and related issues (like climate change, nuclear war prospects and cyber attacks) still overwhelmingly come from male writers.
The CJR does attribute some of the growth issues facing female foreign policy journalists to the state of the media world as a whole. As press outlets continue to prioritize high content volumes, fewer pieces have unique bylines, cutting into the ability for journalists of all genders to promote their personal writing reputations.
But this doesn’t explain the major gap between the percentage of women writing foreign-policy pieces and the number of female-identifying students graduating from top foreign policy college programs. In 2016, Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, Tuft University’s Fletcher School, and Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Study all featured over 50% female enrollment.
According to The CJR, foreign policy journalism can take active steps to diversify its stable of writers. If foreign policy editors widen their scope and make a point of accepting pitches from both male and female writers, they’ll move the industry in the right direction.