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Gender intersectionality and horizontal and vertical concentration of women journalists in Brazil, France and Belgic Francophone´s journalism. An introduction to the problem
Dione Oliveira Moura, Paula Melani Rocha, Béatrice Damian-Galliard, Florence Le Cam

Last modified: 2019-01-25


Despite the gender asymmetries in organizations and labor relations in the field of journalism, female participation, along with the transformations undergone by society and the business world, (FÍGARO, 2005, 2013; DJERF-PIERRE, 2007) has been influencing the journalism practice in several countries. However, in the global scenario, reports from the International Women's Media Foundation (BYERLY, 2011, 2013) point out that, although there are smaller or larger advances across many nations, there is still much to be achieved, in all nations, in terms of equity in the professional market for women.

This study is based on the facts that there are social, historical and political differences between Brazil, France and Belgium Francophone, regarding the formation of the contexts and political, geopolitical and cultural development, as well as the debate on the role of women in society, the history of feminisms and the introduction of articles on gender and its genesis (RAGO, 1995, 1996; BARD, 2003, PRAUD, 2008). Similarly, journalism as a profession and the role of university education in the three contexts are different.

Even with these and other differences, Brazil and France but not Belgium Francophone, are experiencing a feminization process (a quantitative increase of women) in journalism: MICK; LIMA, 2013 show that 63.7% of journalism professionals in Brazil are women, 2012 data; and, in France, the Observatoire des Métiers de la Presse (CCIJP, 2010) presents a 46.7% rate of women journalists in that country, 2016 statistical data.

The problem-raising question is: What are the movements of the professional market identified in studies of these contexts, Brazil, France and Belgium Francophone, that demonstrate (or don’t demonstrate) the presence of vertical and horizontal concentration of women in journalism, even considering the feminization process?

The methodological procedures were the diagnostics performed by the authors in authorial studies regarding the status of women in journalism in the three contexts, as opposed to the literature review.

According to a basis of studies (CHARLES,2003; CHARLES & GRUSKY, 2004; MARUANI 2006; DAMIAN-GAILLARD et al. 2009) we reflect about horizontal concentration - the occurrence of a higher proportion of one of the sexes in some professional areas -  and vertical concentration - situations in which the proportion of one sex is very high at one point in the hierarchy and very low in another, within the same area, career or profession.

Concerning horizontal and vertical concentration, it can be observed that, in Brazil: i) women journalists are more present in sectors outside the media (such as press offices and teaching jobs) and, within the media, they stand out in television stations, news agencies and magazines (ROCHA, 2004; MICK; LIMA, 2013); ii) in the more traditional sectors such as print media and radio stations there is a male predominance (ROCHA, 2004; LEITE, 2015); iii) "a large proportion of women are involved in precarious working relationships in the informal sector of the profession" (LEITE, 2015: 70), (iv) the proportion of women journalists within the highest salary range and occupying leadership positions does not match the proportion of women journalists in the national market (KOSHIYAMA, 2001; CRIADO apud MATOS, 2006; MARTINEZ, LAGO, & LAGO, 2016; MICK and LIMA, 2013; RAMOS, 2010; ROCHA, 2004; SILVA, 2014; SOUZA, 2009).

Regarding the horizontal and vertical concentration, it can be observed that in France: i) "the general feminization of the profession is accompanied by multiple disparities, both in terms of media types and functions performed, as well as responsibilities and wages" of women journalists (DAMIAN-GAILLARD, FRISQUE and SAITTA;2009:177); ii) there are function and work routine limitations as a consequence of gender stereotypes (DAMIAN-GAILLARD and SAITTA, 2010; 2016); (iii) occupancy is unequal in relation to medias: women represent 52% in magazines, 42% in weekly newsletters, 39% in the daily press, 30% in television, 26% in the daily regional press (NEVEU, 2005); and iv) there is a greater number of women journalists working as freelancers ("pigistes"), according to the Observatoire des Métiers de la Presse (CCJIP, 2010).

Concerning horizontal and vertical concentration in the context of  Belgium Francophone, it  has been observed three aspects according to  Florence Le Cam at the Project “Women journalists in Belgium: reasons for the existence of a minority sub-group": i) women represent 30% of the overall journalistic population, while women are most journalists in training; ii) the leadership positions are almost exclusively filled by men; iii) female journalists who have left the profession have suggested that conditions of insecurity -sexism, inequalities in labor relations and changes in journalism - have weighed on their choices.

We point out, therefore, that there are socio-historical differences between the three experiences. What they do have in common, at this initial reflection, is the maintenance of horizontal and vertical barriers for female journalists. Brazil and France also share the increasing of women in journalism. We indicate that the presence of vertical and horizontal ascension barriers for women must be related to the intersectionality of gender, race and class (CRENSCHAW, 1989). And that these realities  need to be analyzed pari passu, in the course of later phases of the study, to the practices and professional representations as well to the evolution of journalism and the operation of press organizations and the media field, as proposed by Damian-Gaillard, Frisque and Saitta (2009).We conclude in agreement with Damian-Gaillard and Saitta (2016) that other factors, such as the female components of the habitus, the specific trajectories of women journalists, as well as cross-transformations of the journalistic field should be taken into account in studies on the feminization process. The present reflection is the first stage of the joint research by these authors, elaborated in agreement between the University of Rennes/France and UnB/Brazil and UEPG/Brazil within the Programme Régional France-Amerique Latine-Caríbe (PREFALC).


journalists, women, feminization, gender studies, Brazil, France, Belgium Francophone.

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