How Austrian Culture Counteracts Gender Equality

By Julia Angelmayr

In the recent years, the spotlight has been set on gender equality and representation in the media, and it is not losing its’ brightness. Even though Austria is a small country which is rather irrelevant looking at the bigger picture, the “wake-up call” came and it demanded to be heard. Ironically, Austria is very famous for its’ “traditional” culture, for Lederhosen and Apfelstrudel. „Sounds quite fun“, one might think. But does it?

It sure does – but the rather old-fashioned ways of thinking inherited in said tradition have always been shaping the problem we are facing today. The typical patriarchist lifestyle is a strong belief and value that is shared within that “Austrian culture”. It’s the father that has a good job, works hard and provides for the family. The mother stays home with the children, caring while also balancing housework. That is what it used to be like, or sometimes, what it still is like. In my opinion, this concept, imparted through the culture we live in, is outdated.

My motivation to have taken part in this project lies there: deeply buried under the unfairness of gender roles and especially the inadequate payment towards women that is still happening right in front of our eyes. In what kind of world is it fair to pay two people – with the same qualifications, working the same number of hours – a different wage, because they have different types of chromosomes in their bodies? A world like that should not exist.

I myself feel very passionate about this topic. As a young woman who has ambitions to set foot into the big world of journalism and “the media”, I am aware that hard work is going to be necessary to get myself where I want to be. Awareness about the inadequate representation of women in the professional world should be risen and talked about.

During our course on Gender Mainstreaming we found out that in fact, the current situation is rather miserable. The studies we found were a good start – but we wanted more. We wanted data on local media houses, especially given the high market concentration in print and broadcasting in Austria. The newspaper Kronen Zeitung holds a market share of 27,2 percent in the print market. The public broadcasting service, ORF, holds 32,9 percent of TV market share (according to ORF Mediaresearch 2018 and the Mediaanalyse 2018).

From what I am aware of, a broad market with many different opinions available is more likely to represent society correctly. Representation – in this case – should not only be about women. It should more so include every minority, no matter the religion, ethnicity, race, disability, sexual or gender orientation, et cetera. Moreover, what we should try to eliminate is the white supremacy present in western countries. This is a sensitive topic, that I believe not many Caucasian people are actively aware of – hence needs to be talked and taught about more. This depicts another factor of influence on the distribution of gender throughout the media houses. As a woman, you will have it hard to get paid fairly. Sometimes even to get the job you are applying for, when there is a man with similar qualifications applying for the same position. Now imagine how difficult it must be having some kind of disability or coming from a different country. Therefore, having every marginalized group represented would be ideal but is rather impossible with our current system of media ownership.

Our research data has showed us that with our sample, the distribution of gender in print, online, TV and radio might be on the verge of becoming fifty-fifty – but still, there is a long way to go. Collecting the data for glossy magazines there is one thing that caught my eye: Print journalism is harshly categorized in so-thought “women-specific” and “men-specific” topics. The magazine Auto Touring, which has a market share of 27,8 percent in Austria (according to Mediaanalyse), is considered a magazine for “men”, with biweekly news about cars, travels and tests. When noting down the journalists working for it, I sadly had to notice how there were almost solely men working on those topics. The same thing happened for the opposite end of the spectrum: in every magazine surrounding the topic of lifestyle (fashion, people, travel, food, beauty, …), there were noticeably more women working as journalists – despite the executive suite being packed with men.

In my opinion, this is a representation of everything currently going wrong – why I am here, writing this. Ever since I grew up to be a woman, gender representation/equality has been a major topic for me and the data we found only contributed to my concern. Everybody, and I mean everybody, should start talking about the topic and changing things up. It is time we, as women – as humans, get our chance for being treated fairly.

The media can only move on from the current status quo by taking actions. By actively employing a more diverse arrangement of people and by choosing upon qualification first, while excluding other potentially discriminating factors like looks or ethnicity. On the other end they can contribute by stopping to represent gender roles in the toxic way that they are currently doing.

Bild von Kelly van de Ven auf Pixabay

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