Society of Editors: Women do not want quotas to address Press Awards imbalance

The Society of Editors is setting up an advisory group to look at diversity in the media following criticism about the lack of women on the shortlist for this year’s Press Awards.

The group will be chaired by Society of Editors board member Sue Ryan, the former managing editor of the Daily Telegraph and will be tasked with coming up with proposals so that the Press Awards next year can be more inclusive of women.

The awards, organised by the Society of Editors and taking place on 22 March, have come in for  criticism this year after it was revealed the shortlist of 114 nominations featured 20 women.

It has been suggested that one way of correcting the gender imbalance would be to introduce some sort of quota system.

But Society of Editors executive director Bob Satchwell said many female journalists did not want such a measure introduced.

He said: “The initial reaction that I have had from women journalists is this is not what they want.”

Satchwell pointed out that the conversion rate of entries to nominations in shortlists was 25 per cent for men and 24 per cent for women, so women had “just a good chance” of being nominated as men.

He added the newspaper industry must “make sure more women enter the awards” as “we want to reflect the way the industry is made up.”

The working group has been set up following a Society of Editors board meeting yesterday.

A statement issued after a board meeting said: “The Society shares the concern about gender imbalance in this year’s Press Awards and will consult the newspaper industry to examine ways of ensuring the awards reflect gender and other diversity in newsrooms.”

Diversity- be it gender or ethnicity- in the media has been a long-standing issue. 

Satchwell said: “We are well aware of the issue and have worked very hard at it in the past.”

Yesterday, on BBC’s Radio 4 Media Show, London Evening Standard journalist Marie Le Conte said the most recent figures showed that in 2011 about 30 per cent of newsroom staff were women but this year only 17.5 per cent of those shortlisted in the awards are female.

Le Conte has now set up the Words By Women awards to counter the lack of representation in the Press Awards.

The Press Awards include the Georgina Henry Women in Journalism award for innovation, organised by Women in Journalism and named in honour of the late former deputy editor of the Guardian, which only women can enter.

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