Men Seriously Outnumber Women In Shortlist For The Press Awards For 2014

There's A Worrying Lack Of Women Shortlisted For The Press Awards
Martin Barraud via Getty Images

The shortlists for the The Press Awards for 2014 have been announced, but there seems to be one group missing.


The awards are designed to celebrate the best of British national newspaper journalism from the previous year, but men seriously outnumber women as nominees.

In the prestigious Columnist of the Year category, all six nominees for broadsheet are male. The Daily Mirror's Alison Phillips is the only woman nominated for Columnist of the Year in the popular sector.

Editorial director of The Sunday Times and columnist Eleanor Mills drew attention to the huge gender imbalance when she tweeted about The Press Awards yesterday.

Many on Twitter agreed that the lack of women shortlisted for Columnist of the Year was disappointing.

But others pointed out that, perhaps, the best stories last year just happen to have been written by male journalists.

It isn't just Columnist of the Year that's seen a lack of women being shortlisted - the nominees for Business and Finance Journalist of the Year, Political Journalist of the Year, Sports Journalist of the Year, Photographer of the Year and Cartoonist of the Year are all male.

The shortlist for Foreign Reporter of the Year includes just one woman.

Former community editor at Grazia Magazine Holly Peacock spent seven years in London working in digital media. She told us the lack of women being shortlisted for media awards is "not just a numbers game."

"It’s not just that we’re simply short of poignant female writers - it is the value we place on their voices and the topics they write about, which is an altogether more ingrained and challenging issue to tackle," she said.

"A lack of diversity in general is never good news, but when it comes to journalism it can be dangerous. Without female voices we perpetuate the idea that the male voice is the voice of authority.

"Although we are making progress and challenging the idea that issues affecting women should not be solely discussed without the inclusion of women (reproductive rights etc) we still have an issue with tokenism.

"Women who write about topics outside of the perceived realm of 'women's issues' are not always welcomed as equals."

Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Louise Pennington, feminist writer and founder of A Room of our Own: A Feminist Womanist Network, said she's not surprised that woman are under-represented in the shortlists.

"We know the media is dominated by men and that men consistently devalue women's work - Margaret Atwood and Dale Spender made this clear 30 years ago," she said.

"This is why women-only prizes are so important. Without them, women's writing simply doesn't get the recognition it deserves."

Jane Martinson, head of media at the Guardian, has previously written about the gender imbalance at The Press Awards.

She she told us she's pleased Women in Journalism - a networking and campaigning organisation for women journalists - has been able to introduce The Georgina Henry Women in Journalism Prize for Innovation at The Press Awards for the first time this year.

"It will hopefully go some way to redress the balance," she said.

The award marks a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to ensure women's voices are heard and respected in the media.

In a statement given to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors - who run The Press Awards - said: “Concern has been expressed about the number of women on the Press Awards shortlists.

"As Eleanor Mills, Chair of Women in Journalism, recognised on Woman’s Hour, we have been increasing the proportion of women judges. That is not the issue.

"In the Columnist Broadsheet category which has been singled out, half of the judges were female.

"Clearly more needs to be done to encourage women to enter the awards and recognise that the journalism they produce across all fields is worthy of recognition.”

Perhaps the lack of female nominees at The Press Awards is a reflection of the fact that men still dominate the top roles - a sad reality in many sectors, not just the media.

To end gender inequality, we need more women in prominent positions.

Women are just as capable of writing on politics, business and foreign affairs as men are. The real question is, are they given the same opportunities to?

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