It Hasn’t Been Easy Journey for Professional, Leadership Excellence in a Male Dominated Media Landscape

As a female journalist navigating the challenging terrain of a male-dominated sector, my journey has been marked by numerous obstacles and biases. From battling stereotypes to facing discrimination, I have encountered firsthand the unique challenges women in journalism often confront. The challenges I have gone through as a female journalist and breaking barriers in a male-dominated industry haven’t been easy.

I still vividly remember my entry into the journalism sector as a fresh graduate in Economics, armed with little knowledge about the inner workings of the industry. It didn’t take long for me to realize that deeply ingrained gender stereotypes would become a significant obstacle in my path. From the early stages of my career, I felt underestimated and deemed less capable than my male colleagues.

As assignments were distributed, I couldn’t help but notice the striking pattern. My male counterparts consistently received tasks that demanded critical thinking, investigative prowess, and a hard-hitting approach. Meanwhile, I was relegated to covering softer topics, often perceived as less vital. This clear differentiation not only hindered my professional growth from the very beginning but also perpetuated the damaging notion that women were somehow incapable of handling the same challenging assignments as men.

Being one of the only two women in my newsroom, I often felt isolated and lacked female role models and mentors who could understand my experiences. The absence of representation made it challenging to envision a clear path for advancement. However, I was fortunate to find mentors in Samson Birhane, former editor-in-chief of EBR, and Samuel Getachew, a respected freelance journalist. Their guidance and friendship provided invaluable support, offering insights into the industry and helping me navigate the challenges I faced as a female journalist. Their mentorship not only bolstered my confidence but also inspired me to become a mentor for other aspiring women in journalism, breaking the cycle of limited representation and fostering an inclusive environment.

Gender discrimination remains an unfortunate reality within the male-dominated field of journalism. I have observed cases in other newsrooms where male colleagues received more recognition and opportunities for career advancement despite having comparable qualifications and skills to their female counterparts. However, I am fortunate to work in a company without systemic discrimination. The company’s management is a staunch advocate for women’s rights and believes in providing equal opportunities to women. As a result, women in our newsroom have been spared from facing such challenges and recognized for their contributions and potential.

A concerning pattern: I’ve encountered unprofessional behaviour that undermines a respectful working environment throughout my journalistic career. One instance involved a prominent minister exhibiting inappropriate conduct during a training session. This behaviour, including flirtation and unwelcome gestures, created a sense of objectification and diminished my ability to focus on the training’s objectives.

Beyond the personal: The apparent normalization of this behaviour by others present was equally concerning. This suggests a potential systemic issue discouraging women from being seen solely on their professional merits.

A call for change: The media industry and all professional environments must strive to create a culture where women are valued and respected as human beings for their skills and contributions. This issue requires a clear stance against harassment and a commitment to fostering a respectful and inclusive work environment for all journalists.

Indeed, the demanding nature of journalism has created significant work-life balance challenges for many young and female journalists. Long hours, unpredictable schedules, and constant deadlines make it difficult to achieve a healthy equilibrium. These challenges can be particularly acute for women in the field, who often navigate additional societal expectations associated with personal and familial roles. Excelling in journalism can necessitate prioritizing professional demands, potentially at the expense of personal time.

As a journalist in a male-dominated field, I have persevered through challenges to achieve the professional and leadership excellence I envisioned. I am grateful to those who supported me in realizing this goal. I am proud of the strong woman I have become, professionally and personally. The challenges I faced have indeed fueled my determination to succeed. The everyday difficulties didn’t stop me from rising because I was firm in rising above my circumstances.

Open discourse about bias and discrimination is essential to fostering a more equitable journalism industry. News organizations are critical in championing gender equality, promoting diversity, and providing mentorship and support to aspiring female journalists.

12th Year • March 2024 • No. 127

Eden Teshome

Editor-in-Chief of Ethiopian Business Review (EBR). She can be reached at

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