Last week New York Times editor Jill Abramson was fired, amid reports that a disagreement over pay, compared to her male predecessor, was partly to blame.
The paper’s publisher denied that pay had anything to do with it. But it meant there was one less woman in charge at a major media institution, in an industry in which men still occupy most of the top jobs.
Last week BuzzFeed asked 900 journalists in the US what they earn in a snapshot survey and found a large disparity especially at senior levels.
We wanted to do the same in the UK. Between Monday and Tuesday we received 358 responses to our non-scientific and entirely anonymous survey of UK journalists, asking just four simple questions: are you male or female? How much do you earn? How senior are you? And, do you think you are underpaid?
Our sample wasn’t random nor weighted evenly – our online poll attracted answers from more women than men. To get this data, we emailed a link to an online survey to more than 1,000 journalists working in newspapers, magazines, specialist consumer and B2B publishers and broadcast news, across the UK. BuzzFeed staff took part, as did many personal contacts and people listed on industry database Gorkana.
What we got was a very small snapshot of a much wider problem.
Here’s the full data.
There were more women than men in the lowest pay grade – 10% of women who took part in our poll earn less than £20,000, while just 4% of men were in this band.
The survey doesn’t account for the difference between pro rata salaries and take-home pay, as more than one respondent pointed out.
We received responses from far more women than men – 237 versus 123 – which may show that women feel more strongly about this issue. But it does also suggest that women feel undervalued in relation to their skills and experience, from junior to the most senior roles.
Some other key points from our data:
— In entry-level positions, almost 70% of women felt underpaid, while only 52% of men felt dissatified with their pay.
— In mid-level positions this trend is even more marked: 74% of women told us they felt underpaid, compared to just 50% of men.
— Similarly, 41% of men in senior management roles said they felt underpaid, while this number climbs to 70% of women of the same seniority.
— The most common group of journalists that took part in the survey, with 102 respondents, was women in mid-level roles, who mostly earn between £20,000 and £40,000 a year.
One full-time staffer told us that she discovered she was being paid less than male colleagues, who were less qualified than her.
“I don’t know if it was because he joined on a higher salary than me, after me, or because I took a year’s maternity leave recently, but lack of transparency definitely played a key role in encouraging this pay inequality,” she said.
And pay disparity between men and women in media is a long-confirmed trend.
A survey commissioned by the National Union of Journalists in 2013 found that the difference in median annual pay for men was £35,000 versus £27,500 for women, a difference of 21.4%.
According to the TUC, using ONS figures, there is a 15.7% pay gap across the UK, with media one of the most inequal sectors.