Why South Korean women journalists leave journalism

The study “Why Are Women Journalists Leaving the Newsroom in South Korea? Gendered and Emerging Factors that Influence the Intention to Leave” by Na Yeon Lee from Yonsei University and Changsook Kim from Ewha Womans University looked at traditional newsroom cultures and emerging factors from new media environment, and to what extent they influence South Korean woman journalists intention to leave newsroom careers.

Although the news industry has been traditionally male-dominated in South Korea, recently, more woman journalists have entered the field. For example, in 1996, JoongAng Daily employed only 24 women out of 402 journalist, or roughly 6%. By 2020, the percentage was 32,8%. 

Even then, the top-level management continues to be dominated by men, as it is in the West such as the USA or Finland. The reason for the disparity between the amount of women journalists and the top-level woman managers is that many women leave their profession early. This is problematic, as studies have shown that the coverage is affected by who are in charge.

The traditional factors that influence women leaving the field include masculine newsroom cultures, discrimination in assignments (women being assigned to soft topics like lifestyle and fashion), and work-family conflicts.

The new, emerging factors involve things such as decreasing salaries, decreased social status of journalists, online workloads and negative online interactions with readers, sometimes even cyberbullying or harassment.

Members of Korean Women Journalists Association (KWJA) representing 31 major news organizations were surveyed, with 693 respondents. KWJA turned 60 years old, and the study celebrated this fact. This led to a high response rate, 47,3%.

The questions dealt with masculine culture, discrimination, work-family conflict, cyberbullying, additional online workloads, weakening of social status, and intention to leave. The respondents were divided into three age groups.

Masculine culture and discrimination were significantly and positively related to intention to leave – these influence women to leave journalism. When it comes to emerging factors, online workloads were associated with intention to leave, and the weaker women perceived the social status of journalists being, the more likely were they to leave.  

The authors note that the findings show that women are discouraged from having long-term journalism careers not only due to emerging factors but also traditional gendered factors stemming from what is according to them South Korea’s patriarchal culture. Of emerging factors, the weakening of status was most strongly associated with the intention to leave.

The article “Why Are Women Journalists Leaving the Newsroom in South Korea? Gendered and Emerging Factors that Influence the Intention to Leave” by Na Yeon Lee and Changsook Kim is in Journalism Practice. (free abstract).

Picture: Untitled by Aiony Haust. License Unsplash.

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