Women in media and TV

The media

The world of work in the media is very different from many other workplaces, being characterised by:

  • The lack of normal employment rights with workers on temporary, casual or fixed term contracts, particularly in TV;
  • The casual 'hire and fire' syndrome, whereby many are hired on a whim and fired in the same way, without any procedure being followed;
  • Appearances, particularly for women, being key; sexual harassment is not uncommon;
  • An almost 'obsession' with attracting young viewers even though most viewers are not 'young';
  • 'Fame' being all important, which is justified for some shows (Big Brother) but not others (Countryfile).
  • An assumption, which is often wrong, that those working in the media have no employment rights. Many are protected from discrimination, have a right to annual leave and may even be employees, despite what the contract says.

Common examples of discrimination

  • Removal from a programme without notice or reasons; even if not on a contract of employment, there is protection from discrimination on grounds of age, sex, race, disability, pregnancy;
  • Refusal of work following removal; this may be because you complained about removal. If the complaint was about discrimination the refusal of further work may be victimisation;
  • 'No country for old women'; different standards may apply to men and women who are 'in later life': men being seen to have 'gravitas' women being 'over the hill'. This may be both sex and age discrimination.
  • Word of mouth decisions; many 'hiring and firing' decisions are based on personal contacts rather than on objective criteria for the job. This may be discrimination if the decision is influenced by the age, gender, race of the individual;
  • Sexual harassment is unlawful but often is tolerated to get the right work; endless unwanted drinks with the boss in the evening just to continue your career;
  • Pregnancy is often a career stopper as you don’t get as much work after time off for a baby;
  • Complaining of discrimination can be death to your career as the work dries up.