The ORF Task Force As A Role Model For Gender Mainstreaming

By Laura Holzinger

Gender mainstreaming means a strategy towards realising gender equality on an international basis. The key topic of gender mainstreaming is to fight against any discrimination of women and men. The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) supports policy makers and all relevant institutions in their efforts to make equality between women and men a reality. As our research team is from University of Vienna we decided to take a closer look on Austria’s media landscape and also started writing a blog, which is called Let’s Talk Equal.

As people in Austria, like in most other parts of the world, do consume any kinds of media everyday it is highly important for media institutions to transfer an equal view towards gender equality to the masses. The research group where I was part of decided to take a closer look at ORF – Austria’s national radio and television – by interviewing several women from ORF Task Force, a federation of women working at ORF fighting for women’s rights and gender equality in-house.

The Task Force exists since 2006 and is responsible for many improvements in the field of ORF’s gender equality. On the one hand, they try to advise the management by being in constant exchange with Mr. Alexander Wrabetz, Director-General of ORF. On the other hand they organise meetings for women where they can communicate with other women in a relaxed atmosphere outside the normal working hours.

The Task Force invented a mentoring programme where women have the opportunity to visit workshops and speak with several mentors from ORF itself and an extern trainer as well. They also originated the so called “Lila Limette” (purple lime). It is a negative award for ORF productions which are particularly misogynist or where women are represented less or worse than men.

Laura Holzinger and Kim Hufnagel while interviewing ORF Task Force member Eva Strommer

Talking to the women from the Task Force made it clear that in Austria’s media landscape 76% of men run leading positions, while women are rather employed with lower positions. Many highly educated women do not have the same advancement opportunities and earn less money than their male colleagues, although on average women have a higher education than men in their occupational area.

Another problem is that there are by 30% more men shown on television than women. In addition, fewer female experts are shown on screen, which is also problematic because this conveys an untruthful picture of reality. Males and females must be represented equally often and be shown as equally important in the media in order to stop people’s (subconscious) distinguishing.

In general, there are more male than female employees at ORF. By virtue of the Task Force’s huge effort the ORF law has been changed: since 2010 it is required by law that at least 45% of all ORF employees must be female.

But in reality this quota is still different. In my opinion the reason for this lies in the lack of awareness. ORF is a huge national media institution and the Task Force consists of only a few women. People outside ORF have not even heard about them. In order to make a faster and especially a bigger change the Task Force and this whole gender mainstreaming topic have to be much more ubiquitous.

In our interview we asked Mrs. Eva Strommer why the Task Force has no social media platforms because we think it would be important to raise more awareness. She said that, inter alia, no one of them has time for it because with their jobs and the Task Force they already have so many other things to deal with. Then she mentioned that it is unthinkable to hire someone extern as a social media worker for the Task Force.

I think for a huge institution like ORF it would be possible to do so. But it seems to be not important enough.

People must be aware of the fact that there are so many things still going wrong. I feel like most people do not really see how many catch ups we still have, not only in the media but from any other workplace up to everyday life. The gender pay gap exists in Austria too. By now it is 15%. Despite the situation gets better and better people may think it is already gone, just because no one really talks about it.

When we asked the ladies about other media houses and if they also have something similar to Task Force they did not know anything about it. This made me one more time think of how important it is to speak up. This is ORF – they could have a huge medial attention if they wanted to. I think it limits their own power in a way. Maybe they could achieve even more if they would speak up, send press releases to all the other media institutions in the country and make sure that every person in Austria knows what’s going on. Fair enough, I was really impressed by the women who put this project together and the ORF sets a good example to at least start somewhere.

If you want to know more about the topic, please also read:

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