Things men say to lady journos

Drew Barrymore as a newspaper intern in <i>Going the Distance</i>.

Drew Barrymore as a newspaper intern in Going the Distance.

As a woman who has spent her fair share of time in university bars and pubs, I’ve grown used to hearing the occasional lame pick up line.

The thing that still surprises me however is hearing them when I’m holding a dictaphone instead of a drink.

Being harassed while on the job is a surprisingly common part of being a female journalist, an irritation highlighted by the Said to Lady Journos tumblr.

The site - dedicated to chronicling the mindless, sexist and simply inane things people say to female reporters - includes snippets from the journalists such as an imbedded reporter who was asked what a “pretty little thing” like her was doing in Iraq.


I’m yet to meet a female journalist who can’t contribute something to this website.

It allows reporters to poke fun at some of the absurd and antiquated comments they’ve received, but it also shines a light on the less glamorous side of the profession.

Even with a notepad and press pass in hand, there are still some people who treat female reporters as if their career was an elaborate way to meet men or gain compliments.

And as a relatively small and young looking journalist, I’ve been on the receiving end of such comments plenty of times.

I’ve been asked by an interview subject if I could keep up with him in my “pretty little handwriting” – it’s called shorthand, buddy – and have been previously mistaken as an assistant to the male cadet I was training in court reporting.

Receiving this kind of treatment, some intentionally condescending and some just a failed attempt at conversation, from members of the public is one thing. Most journalists I know are thick skinned enough to shrug it off and move on with a sharply worded response.

But it’s a different matter when these comments come from inside the newsroom.

It’s something that many female journalists have unfortunately experienced and another aspect highlighted on the site, which includes comment from a female intern who was told to “cover her ears” by a male court reporter during a murder trial.

A survey conducted by Monash University last year found that female journalists were more than twice as likely to be sexually harassed in the workplace than in other professions.

Of the 577 journalists interviewed, almost 58 per cent had been sexually harassed in the workforce.

It’s great to have something to laugh over at after work drinks, but it remains an injustice that this innuendo and mid-interview distractions are something that men in the media rarely have to endure.

I am content to earn the same wage as my male colleagues, but if the wider world continues to subject female journalists to sexist remarks and antiquated attitudes, a pay packet does not mean equality.