Editor's Note: Changing perceptions

Our cover story this week highlights five female journalists...reporting from Israel to some of the most influential international news outlets.

Editors Marion Fischel (left) and Laura Kelly at ‘The Jerusalem Post’ offices. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Editors Marion Fischel (left) and Laura Kelly at ‘The Jerusalem Post’ offices.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The theme of International Women’s Day 2014, taking place tomorrow, is “Inspiring Change.” One of its goals is raising awareness of gender inequality in the professional world. Today, it’s not that women are held back because of oppression in general, but sometimes it’s lack of awareness and self-promotion. While prejudices remain – with women still in the minority in senior management positions and earning less on average than their male counterparts – women have prominence in almost every professional field. It’s just the problem of being able to see them.
At a meeting on economic empowerment for women in the Knesset on Tuesday, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said, “I believe with all my heart that in any place where women work, the work is done better.” A statement like this, while flattering, is unnecessary. In a society that values equality, women don’t need to be recognized for doing a superior job to our male counterparts (not that it doesn’t hurt). However, in this society of equality that we should strive for, gender needs to be irrelevant, the only important thing is getting a quality job done.
Until that happens, change will come as people see women showing the quality of their work in the public sphere. How many times on a panel of experts, either on the news or at a conference, are most commentators men with only one woman? The goal of the Magazine this week – highlighting women in the fields of philanthropy, politics, military, sports, technology and more – is not to say women can do these jobs, but that women are in these jobs.
“The more women you are accustomed to see on [expert panels]...the more people will get it in their heads that this is not strictly male territory and the more women will feel comfortable interviewing on these topics,” a female journalist told me.
One group in Israel that is looking to change the status quo of representation is Ta Ha’itonaiyot, or the “Female Journalists’ Cell.” It’s most active as a Facebook group with one of its main goals trying to change the demographic of female representation on television. The group has over 300 members, with female journalists actively using it as a resource to help find women experts in the fields of diplomacy, politics, security, defense – to name a few – to be featured on panels.
“We are encouraging females to take more leading roles in the media,” Vered Cohen-Barzilay, an activist, former journalist and one of the administrators of Ta Ha’itonaiyot told me. Their presence on social media is only a small part of their activities that are working towards equal representation. At the end of February, members of Ta Ha’itonaiyot met with MKs to discuss promoting women’s representation in the media and coverage on the issue of sexual harassment. Cohen-Barzilay said that with a majority of men in senior management positions, women are more prone to sexual harassment and that it doesn’t necessarily have to take the form of assault. Agreement under intimidation doesn’t imply consent. “We encourage women to speak [out]... and not to be scared or shy.”
Our cover story this week highlights five female journalists – professionals in one of the most noble fields (I may be a little biased) – reporting from Israel for some of the most influential international news outlets. While not done on purpose, it happened that our interviewers were all also women. It’s a testament to The Jerusalem Post that when you look around our office, one can’t help but see a majority of women. In fact, most of the hands that went into the making of this magazine, from editorial, sub-editorial and graphics, were women’s. On the masthead of the Post, women make up 11 of the 23 names that have a large stake in putting out our news.
But the best part of this issue is that the successes featured are not always professional – a woman making it in a man’s world – it’s that a lot of these successes are personal, women overcoming obstacles for themselves. This is what I feel is most inspiring.