When Astrid Rawohl became sports editor at Deutschlandfunk in 1997, not only was she expected to create a better atmosphere among her four male colleagues, she was also expected to make coffee from time to time. The major events – the Olympics, the World Cup – were shared among the men. “It took years before I was allowed to report on the Women’s Basketball World Cup”. She has been in charge of the editorial office for ten years now and states: “The climate has changed by 180 degrees”. Today, authors come to me and suggest topics like ‘menstrual problems in top athletes’, they don’t have any reservations about it.”
However, things are not looking quite so rosy everywhere in the German broadcasters, and certainly not in the sports departments. One comes to this conclusion study the journalists’ initiative Pro Quote, which was presented on Wednesday. The association, founded in 2012, campaigns for equality between women and men in the media and, in particular, for half of all management positions to be held by women. In 2018, Pro Quote determined for the first time how gender equality was in German broadcasters, and the study has now been repeated.
With surprising results, according to Edith Heitkamper, Chair of Pro Quote, and the authors of the study. The proportion of women in the workforce at the public broadcasters is already 50 percent. But what Pro Quote describes as the “female power share” has also increased considerably in many stations. The “female power share” is determined by multiplying the number of female employees by their respective position in the hierarchy. A director is therefore weighted much more heavily than a trainee.
The HR program director is being grilled, her numbers are bad
At the top of the ranking are RBB with 57.4 percent and Deutsche Welle with 50.8 percent. After the average female power share of all public broadcasters was 37.7 percent in 2018, it is now significantly more at 43.4 percent. The result is all the more remarkable when the internal inertia of public broadcasters is taken into account. This was also pointed out by Gabriele Holzner, program director and deputy director of Hessischer Rundfunk, who was downright grilled in the Pro Quote press conference, which was set up as a talk show, for the disastrous 29.4 percent performance of her station. After all, she has only been the boss for a year and a half, she countered, and since then she has filled almost all vacant management positions with women. It’s just not that easy sometimes: “If two applicants are equally good, I’ll take the woman, but if the man is better, I’ll of course take the man.” If you want parity, you must first ensure that more women apply for management jobs.
The sports editors are still particularly male-dominated – despite the reports by Astrid Rawohl. In the 1990s, the proportion of women sports journalists in Germany was around seven percent; today it is between ten and 15. The fact that the proportion of women in leading positions, according to the study, is now a good third can almost be considered a success.
The problem, according to Marc Hall, one of the sports coordinators at NDR, is less the dominance of men in the upper hierarchical levels than with editors and authors and with the audience. Sports reporting is still mainly done by men for men. With the “50:50 project”, which other German broadcasters have also taken over from the BBC, the NDR is trying to counteract this. The goal is to implement gender equality not in the staff, but in the program. Half of all interviewees, experts, song performers, artists, portrayed should be women.
Hall openly admitted that this is not easy, especially in sport. It’s “one thing we’re trying to do,” he said skeptically. “If it works?” In women’s football there are spectator numbers in the tens of millions, but still: “It’s a generational task,” he said, “it has to develop in people’s minds”. HR Mrs. Holzner also found – and not only to relieve her own company – that the topic cannot be reduced to filling vacancies: “It’s about getting women in front of cameras, topics in the program and women taking responsibility. All three together are important .”
However, how controversial even the latter is is shown by the fact that not a single private broadcaster wanted to publish figures on gender relations among its employees.