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There is an increasing number of female journalism students in training institutions in Europe and Asia and Africa (Frohlich 2004; Creedon 1993; Kosicki & Becker 1992; Peterson 1988). However, it has been observed that there is a disproportionate number of practicing female journalists who graduate from these programmes (Jurkowitz 2003). The number of female students graduating from journalism schools are high, but the number of those practicing in newsrooms is disproportionately lower. For example, University of Zambia (UNZA) records of graduates in the Department of Mass Communication indicate that more women than men graduate as journalists. The author’s observations based on over twenty years of teaching journalism in the UNZA programme is that in their entry year, the female students declare that they want to be trained as journalists and to work in the newsroom. But by third and fourth year, their career direction seems to change. They lose interest in traditional journalism reporting and begin to prefer public relations and other specializations in the communications industry. Even those who at graduation accept reporting positions in the newsrooms, pursue alternative careers within the first three years. This phenomenon brings up a critical question: What drives females out of the newsroom? Besides the obvious matter of better salaries. It posits that additional influences on career choices are grounded in socialization, biased attitudes, cultural beliefs and are gender based.
1.1 Background of the study
Barriers to women’s ability to climb the cooperate ladder in the media industry, negative or gender-blind and biased attitudes in the media are varied. They include, women’s low status in society, traditional and cultural expectations, heavy workloads, double shifts of working at home and office, and their absence in positions of formal authority or decision-making (Nyondo.,2005).
Gender bias in different institutions including media houses as observed today derives its roots from the time society begun differentiating roles between women and men. These roles were defined according to societal beliefs and customs. The customs and beliefs became the norm by adoption and compliance. Society started to perceive men’s roles as being superior to those of women and the status of men was given a superior position therefore, this action from the male’s affect the attitude of most female mass communicators. The superior status ensured men’s dominance in all areas of human activity with exception of maternal roles of carrying a baby for nine months and breast feeding.
The colonial governments in Africa made it worse. Females were discriminated against in the education system and society accepted it. Interviews with older women in a literacy class revealed that females who pursued any formal education were even labeled “prostitutes.” The colonial system gave education and employment to males, therefore, men became responsible for policy formulation and drafting of rules and regulations. In the process, their priorities did not consider women’s interests. The colonial governments, by empowering men with education and employment, automatically positioned them as the sole bread earners of the families. The important role that a traditional woman held in the home was diminished more and more. This masculine culture reflected in society in general also penetrated institutions, media houses and other social sectors.
The same gender biases found in the institutions of society filtered into media houses and newsrooms. From the time of the dawn of the printing era of the 14th century, to the first female professional journalist Anne Royall of 1800s to the yellow press in the early 19th century, men supervised media houses and the newsrooms. Men constructed the rules and regulations and set the standards of what is newsworthy and what is good professional conduct. The ethos of what we call journalism today comes from that background. The regulations and rules of conduct suited the masculine world and had little consideration for female interests. The work schedules, the shift hours and assignments of different news beats
all perpetuate the old acquired and learned biases in society. In general, rules of the game were blended to suit male conditions and their interpretations worked to the advantage of men journalists. One of the elements alluded to in the research done by Ross (2000) was the culture of long working hours. Female mass communication students and practicing journalists find it quite taxing to meet the demands of a “good mother” and at the same time observe the long working hours. In his research with Senegalese female journalists Wijngaard states that: “Male colleagues doubt women’s capabilities; and they see them merely as sex objects and the moment women pose a threat to them, they give them masculine nicknames.” Wijngaard (1992).
1.2 Statement of the problem
Some mass communication student have negative attitude toward their profession as a journalist, this is due to the fact that problem female journalist experience in the field are not encouraging as a result of masculine attitudes toward female journalist. The criteria of ‘importance’ in news worthiness become an issue when a reporter quotes female sources.
The journalists who are supposed to be more knowledgeable make no effort to break the stigma. The Baseline and a follow up research done by Nyondo, (2005) revealed that the news beats on politics, economics, business, and sports were reserved for male reporters and their sources were predominantly male; even stories about women or stories written by female journalist rarely had women as sources.
Despite the fact that there is considerably good number of trained female journalists, very few of them are working with media houses in Nigeria.
A large number of female journalists are produced from different institutions offering mass communication, but female participation in the profession is very negligible. One thing that is glaring in the Nigeria media is the near absence of Nigerian women as news makers”. Though Nigeria is developing, it has gotten to a stage where the female Journalists and their male counterparts should be competing in the media houses.
The number of female journalists in the field is very few as compared to the number that graduates from journalism schools and universities. The female tend to run away from practicing journalism. Women journalists are not often seen as lecturers neither do women help in the development and promotion of the profession unlike in other professions where the female and male compete and seek superiority over each other.
This dormant attitude of females towards the profession has resulted to the males claiming superiority over them in the field and as such not portraying a good image of women in the society. This is because most men in the society believe that journalism exposes the practitioners and makes the female counterparts lose their dignity. Many female journalists who work in the media sometimes do not show keen interest in their job. This affects the female practitioners as the male practitioners always tend to over shadow them both in position and in interest to work.
Therefore, this study tends to evaluate the attitude of female mass communication students towards journalism as a career.
1.3 Significance Of The Study
This study on the attitude of female mass communication students towards journalism as a career is significant because, this will provide the empirical basis that evaluates the reasons while female mass communication students have a positive or negative attitude on their profession as future journalists. A lot of people are baffled over the issues of why women do not take up journalism as a career after studies. It has really agitated the minds of some professionals and has equally created a lot of controversies.
The researcher, therefore, has deemed it fit to find out the reasons for such negative attitude of females towards journalism. This study will provided an avenue for an in-depth study on the controversial issue of knowing why women are no much going into journalism as career, how do these women see the practice of journalism, do they go into the study with the intention of practicing journalism or taking it up just as a career. Therefore, this study will help to ascertain the reasons for such attitude among female mass communication students toward their career.
1.4 Research Question
In order to give direction to this study the following research questions were posed
1.5 Objective of the study
This study sought to investigate or examine the attitudes of female mass communication students toward journalism as a career. In other to carry out this study the following objectives are outlined as shown below.
1.6 Scope of the study/Delimitation
Journalism programmes across the African continent have different attitudes towards it as regard to the female performance in the field as a journalists. This study discusses the issue in light of female undergraduate mass communication students toward journalism.
However, on the basis of experiences coupled with the lesser numbers of females in the field of practicing, the present study questions the assumed dichotomy between females and males attitude toward their career as a journalist.
The researcher has decided to limit this study to female students in mass communication department, Anambra State University Uli. It was therefore done to find out only the attitude of female mass communication students towards journalism as a career, including the attitude of others towards female Journalists.
1.7 Conceptual Definition Of Terms
For the purpose of clarity, some key concept words used in the content of this research work are listed below and properly defined.
Conceptual Definition of Terms Used.