Women in Media Show Their Strength

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  • Two female journalists pose amongst their male co-workers at KBR Radio. Photo by Mikaela Southey.

    Two female journalists pose amongst their male co-workers at KBR Radio. Photo by Mikaela Southey.

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta“I remember my editor at the Jakarta Post once said, ‘Wow, we have too many women reporters here. The newsroom has become too emotional’,” recalls Managing Editor of Magdalene magazine, Hera Diani.

    This is indicative of the stereotypes of women who work in Indonesia’s media industry. It’s a demonstration of the patriarchal culture that Diani says has been cultivated in Indonesia and remains unopposed due to the lack of females in positions of power in government and social organizations. In the example of the media industry, females are underrepresented, with only 10 percent of Indonesia’s 14,000 journalists consisting of women according to 2013 data.

    Diani says Indonesia’s culture is influenced by its history and social norms as is the culture of each corporate industry. The media industry is no different. “When women are opinionated, we are told we are emotional. There’s a lot of mansplaining. During meetings women are usually silent and won’t often voice their opinion,” she says.

    Journalists were concerned about men’s false perceptions of women. Designed by Walmond

    An Alliance of Independent Journalists representative, Raisya Mahrani, says the editors at her former place of work would often complain about her emotions by asking, “’Why are you so angry today? Are you on your period?’”

    Such attitudes have restricted the number of female journalists in Indonesia. “In the newsroom, I think the inclination is more toward men than women, except, maybe, when you’re single,” Diani says.

    Before marriage and pregnancy, a woman has fewer commitments outside of work, which allows women in the media industry to work productive 16-hour days. Because this quickly changes after marriage and, later, pregnancy, editors are often less likely to hire women.

    It’s economically motivated, Jakarta journalist Wan Ulfa says. “They will hire more men because they don’t have maternity leave, so it’s a more economic decision,” she explains.

    Journalists working at the KBR Radio office, where only two women are employed. Photo by Mikaela Southey

    By law, employers in Jakarta are required to provide three months maternity leave to all female employees, but Diani argues that it’s not enough.

    “It has to be at least six months because you’re still a mess. Breastfeeding every three hours, tired from the lack of sleep, but they expect you to be back to normal and give 100 percent like before…. The expectation is very high, so it’s very hard,” she says.

    “There are no resources, no support system for women to do that. Even day-care options are very few in Jakarta. Traffic is bad, especially when you commute to the suburbs.”

    The lack of support makes it particularly difficult to work in the media industry as a mother, Diani says. She recalls one of her editors helping her children over the phone to do their homework and female journalists attending meetings when their children were sick.

    “There’s so much expectation for women to juggle like that,” she says.