Media release: A stronger voice for women in the media – NUJ survey results


A SURVEY of journalists and media workers in Scotland has revealed that 75 per cent of women have suffered discrimination at work, compared to just 16 per cent of men.

The most common forms of discrimination women face relate to promotion and career advancement opportunities (35 per cent), inappropriate comments (34 per cent) equal pay (31 per cent) and flexible working (20 per cent).

Only 16 per cent of men who responded had encountered discrimination, the most common form being paternity issues with eight per cent reporting problems.

Other problems men faced included flexible working, equal pay, promotion and career advancement opportunities (three per cent, respectively) and inappropriate comments (two per cent).

The NUJ in Scotland undertook the survey as part of the Stronger Voice for Women in the Media project, funded via the STUC under the Trade Union, Fair Work and Modernisation Fund.

The Scottish Government-backed project aims to achieve the objectives of the Fair Work Framework to give workers an effective voice, opportunity, job security, career fulfilment and respect.

This can be done by improving representation in the workplace, offering greater training and development opportunities and addressing equality, sexism and issues of misrepresentation in the media and by the media.

Fiona Davidson, NUJ Scotland women’s project worker, said: “The most pressing issues raised in the survey include the need to address equal pay, how to get more women into senior management, and to target sexism, misogyny, macho attitudes and online abuse.

“Flexible working to address caring responsibilities of men and women also needs to be addressed along with the problems of precarious working and the impact on journalists’ financial situation and mental health.

“We expect employers to be keen to adopt a collaborative approach with their workers and the NUJ to end inequality and sexism both in the newsroom and in the news.”

Paul Holleran, Scottish Organiser, said: “The NUJ in Scotland has long advocated for equality of treatment and better conditions for our members. We believe that when employers are committed to developing and investing in their staff they can reap enormous rewards.

“This survey and its results confirm the need for more to be done and the NUJ is keen to work with employers to do so.

“As a union, we are aware of the difficulties faced by the ever growing number of freelances and casuals and are campaigning for better employment protection for all workers, regardless of employment status.”

Of the responses, 60 per cent were from females, 40 per cent from males.

The majority of respondents were white, heterosexual, non-disabled and 90 per cent were NUJ members.

The number of female respondents outnumbered males in all age categories up to the age of 50 but in the over-50 categories the number of females dropped dramatically.

The broadcasting sector had the largest proportion of females – with 31 per cent – while national and regional newspapers tied for the highest proportion of males with 30 per cent each.

The freelance sector tied with national newspapers for the largest sector overall with 26 per cent, closely followed by broadcasting with 25 per cent.

Some 23 per cent of women and 17 per cent of men were freelance.

While women gave family responsibilities as the main reason for going freelance, the most common reason among men was following redundancy.

Women were more likely to be in more precarious work with fixed term, zero hours or no contracts or part-time working hours compared to men, 72 per cent of whom had fulltime jobs.

Only 53 per cent of women worked full-time. Some 37 per cent of women felt they were treated differently because of their employment status, compared to 18 per cent of men.

Differences in treatment included being paid less, no chance of promotion, less respect, feeling inferior, no pension, no bonus and having problems obtaining credit.

One female responded, ‘Status = bottom of pile’.

Of the female returns, 22 per cent said they were reluctant to speak up as they didn’t want to ‘rock the boat’, lose work and money, risk being labelled a troublemaker or lose out on their contract being renewed. Ten per cent of males were reluctant to speak up for similar reasons.

More women felt their gender impacted on their career with 60 per cent saying yes, with 29 per cent reporting they felt their career had been steered in one direction and 47 per cent reporting they had felt judged on appearance or demeaned.

Equality in the workplace was promoted by 70 per cent of employers and a zero tolerance approach to lad’s mags and calendars adopted by 67 per cent of employers.

But only 22 per cent confirmed their employer had a transparent pay structure and only ten per cent knew that a domestic abuse policy was in place.

More males than females believed there was sufficient representation of women in senior roles, equality in leadership was promoted and that women were encouraged to apply for promotions.

Both men and women (almost 80 per cent) thought there was a problem with the way women and/or minority groups were represented in the media, but only 25 per cent of women and ten per cent of men had ever complained to management.


Notes to editors:

The survey was issued to NUJ members in Scotland and made available to non-members working in the media between  1 March  and 13 April 2017.

For further information, contact Fiona Davidson at, Paul Holleran at or

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NUJ Scotland contact details…

Contact: Fiona Davidson