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Strip Club Meetings, Porn And Shocking Initiations: New Report Unearths Disturbing Stories Of Women In Maltese Media Workplaces

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A European Parliament study on gender equality in the media sector has brought to light some shocking stories from Maltese workplaces.

The report, which was the subject of a discussion between the President of Malta and representatives of the country’s media houses earlier today, also focused on Sweden, Austria and the United Kingdom, unearthing some of the Member States’ darkest working cultures.

“Some respondents stated that the newsroom can be a very sexist environment,” the report’s section on Malta reads, going on to say that crude jokes and porn on the computer were the order of the day. One female news journalist said: “It is a very macho environment. If you survive it, you’ll survive anything.”

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“The men stood around watching porn”

Another respondent described her “shocking initiation” into a now defunct newspaper’s newsroom when she was young and still starting out in journalism. 

“The men stood around watching porn, and the news editor would call to and refer to the female journalists in derogatory sexual terms.” Other women working in newsrooms reported very different and much healthier working environments, where the setting up of disciplinary boards immediately followed any reports of sexual harassment.

“I think she is on her period”

In one particular case, a respondent recounted a situation where she forcefully expressed her view of the direction her company should take during a strategy meeting. 

According to the report, she had overheard the CRO comment, “I think she is on her period.”

Strip club meetings

One particular woman who worked in the gaming sector reported sexist practices around important aspects such as decision-making, even going so far as to describe “the prevalence of a boys’ club mentality”. 

“Deals and major decision-making are made in nightclubs and strip clubs,” the respondent said. “It is normal for heads of departments to bring their clients there to make them happy.”

The prevalence of sexual harassment on the workplace

Most respondents said they had experienced sexual harassment at some point in their career. Comments included that is “accepted that women accept sexual harassment as a ‘joke’, because it is a ‘friendly gesture’, and that ‘it happens all the time’.

One respondent working in social media said that, as a woman working in industry, she feels like she’s had to learn to ‘put up up barriers and at the same time keep it light’.

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Nine different respondents highlighted other examples of sexism in working cultures, from comments from recruitment board members about the age and appearance of women applying for jobs, to the lack of family-friendly timing for meetings. Other reports went even further than that.

The study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM).

The report, which was published earlier last month, also quoted the European Institute for Gender Equality’s (2013) Review of the implementation of the
Beijing Platform for Action in the EU Member States. 

The review not only found that women are in the minority in
all decision-making roles in Maltese media organisations; of the four case study Member States, Malta was found to have the lowest representation of women in decision-making
roles. In fact, it found that there are no women at all in the positions of CEO, executive or non-executive directors. The total percentage of women working at all levels only came up to 16%, a stark contrast to the EU’s 30%.

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When asked what can be done to improve gender equality in the media, the one answer that was constantly brought up was “the need for a fundamental cultural shift”. Generating awareness and employing a great critical mass of women in the industry were also cited as possible catalysts for change.

The full Gender Equality in the Media Sector study can be found here.

What do you make of the revelations?

READ NEXT: Shocking New Study Finds High Levels Of Sexual Harassment In Maltese Workplaces

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