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'Sports journalism appears to be among last bastions of misogyny' 

A number of journalists walked out of the SWFA's awards dinner over 'sexist and racist jokes'.

‘Sports journalism appears to be among last bastions of misogyny’  Sammy Turner via SNS Group
WiJS has highlighted the lack of female sports editors and lack of career path available to women in the sector.

An organisation representing women working in media across Scotland has said that sports journalism “appears to be among the last bastions of misogyny” within the industry.

It comes after several prominent journalists walked out of the Scottish Football Writers’ Association (SWFA)’s annual awards dinner in Glasgow.

Eilidh Barbour, who works for Sky Sports and for the BBC, was among those who left the event.

On Twitter, Barbour said she had “never felt so unwelcome” in the industry during her attendance at the dinner.

Gabriella Bennett, who co-chairs the training and campaigning group Women in Journalism Scotland (WiJS), said her table also walked out of the awards ceremony at the same time as Eilidh’s group.

She said: “I was at these awards tonight and sat through the same sexist and racist jokes made by a keynote speaker.”

The SWFA later said it was sorry “to anyone offended or upset by material from one of our after-dinner speakers” at the awards ceremony, which reportedly featured racist and sexist jokes.

In a statement issued on Monday evening, WiJs outlined the problems that exist in the sector, as they condemned the behaviour witnessed at the event in Glasgow.

“Women in Journalism Scotland (WiJS) stands with all those who walked out in the middle of an offensive after-dinner speech at the Scottish Football Writers’ Association awards dinner last night,” the organisation said.

“It is a matter of great concern to us that it is still deemed acceptable to behave and speak in such a disparaging manner towards women. This is not banter for the minority groups who are the butt of the jokes.

“Sports journalism appears to be among the last bastions of misogyny within journalism.”

WiJS highlighted the lack of female sports editors and lack of career path available to women in the sector.

The statement continued: “In a recent survey carried out at the end of last year, WiJS discovered that of around 95 sports desk staff jobs at Scottish newspapers, just three were filled by women.

“There are no female sports editors, which shows the lack of career path available to women in this sector, especially when you consider that many of our current newspaper editors rose through the ranks via sports desks.”

The organisation warned that fewer women are being attracted to the sector due to lower salaries being offered than male counterparts.

“Dark corners of our industry still exist, where outdated attitudes – which wouldn’t be acceptable elsewhere – are still condoned,” the statement said.

“Members tell us about derisory attitudes towards women who report on sport, all-male voices in morning news conferences, sexist jokes in actual and virtual rooms, an intimidating atmosphere in the football press box and more.

“Disturbingly, we also hear stories that when women are offered jobs writing about sport, it is often on lower salaries than male counterparts, with fewer promotions offered and little flexibility.

“As a result, fewer women are attracted to the sector and those who do go into it, leave because of what they find.”

The statement also issued a call for editors and senior journalists in the industry to work with them in order to “drive the necessary changes”.

It concluded: “It’s time to call time on the sexist shame of the beautiful game. We’re working to redress that imbalance and make the sector better for women with a mentoring scheme and a dedicated support and training campaign.

“To that end we call on sports editors, commissioning editors, seniors within this industry to work with us to drive the necessary changes.

“If you can offer jobs, work placements, mentoring, freelance shifts, shadowing experience, CV feedback to our members who work in this sector then we want to hear from you – wijscotland@gmail.com.”