Why are Nigerian women still underrepresented in media, despite major milestones?


In a strategic sample of 19 major Nigerian online and offline media outlets, though data shows some improvement, only 16 percent are run or owned by women.

The gender distribution of the journalism workforce in Nigeria is largely influenced by social and cultural norms, as well as gender stereotypes. In routine media roles such as newsgathering, writing, sub-editing, and production support, for example, women make up the majority of the workforce across the country.

The senior professional level, however, is found to be male-dominated, with 84 percent of positions held by men compared to 16 percent by women. Some junior professional level occupations, notably makeup and wardrobe, are dominated by women, while others, like studio crafts and design, are dominated by men.

The disparity between the percentage of female reporters and presenters in print media in 2015 shrank by 13% in 2020, according to the findings of the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) study above. In television, female reporters and presenters outnumbered male reporters and presenters by 75 percent in 2015 and 54 percent in 2020. Between 2015 and 2020, female representation in radio increased by only 8%.

Salary and Compensation

Remarkably, this gender disparity in occupational roles also manifests itself in salary disparity. Although acquiring sufficient data to make informed conclusions about men’s and women’s wage differentials in Nigeria is often challenging, it is not uncommon for men to earn more than women. The dominating pattern in Nigerian media outlets throughout occupational levels is one of relative pay disparity along gender lines, with men earning better compensation at both junior and senior professional levels.

The most common pattern discovered was a persistently low number of women in senior positions in the journalism industry. This is not to argue that women have not made strides in terms of numbers and position in recent years. It does, however, imply that in many of the newsrooms evaluated for this study, Nigerian women still lack proper access to the top of the journalism profession.

Source: gendergap.africa
Glass Ceiling

For years, the term “glass ceiling” has been used to describe the systemic prejudices that prevent qualified women with talents and experience from progressing in their careers. In the day-to-day operations of media organization, such as hiring and promotion processes, such biases are frequently stated tacitly rather than explicitly. A glass ceiling was found in 11 of the 19 news media outlets studied (57 percent). Glass ceilings were discovered to be particularly prevalent at the middle and senior management levels of media companies.

The study does not presume that all women in media wish to move into top management roles, but rather than having a pool of skilled women in the profession will boost women’s chances of moving into these decision-making positions.

Gender Equity and Sexual Harassment Policies

The goal of the study was to see how far media organizations go to create internal support mechanisms that allow women and men to feel equally represented and supported in the workplace. Unfortunately, 37 percent of the organizations surveyed have no company-wide policy on gender equity or sexual harassment.

Women’s low presence in most Nigerian newsrooms may then be explained by the lack of gender-related organizational policies in most media organizations. To comprehend the impact of gender-related policies on Nigerian news media companies, it is necessary to first recognize that the country’s journalism profession is mostly structured within organizational politics, cultural norms, beliefs, and traditions.


In most of the newsrooms surveyed, women do not enjoy full equality with men, according to the poll. A few media organizations have shown increased egalitarian inclinations, either through long-standing efforts or more recent ones. The majority are, however, making slow progress toward inclusiveness in senior or board-level growth.

There are no easy solutions to the underrepresentation of women in the media. To provide women with equal opportunities for professional growth, newsrooms must, however, develop or update their policies on gender equity, sexual harassment, and employment. Women interested in and aiming for senior media positions should be empowered and provided with mentors, if necessary.  However, promoting female employees is not solely the responsibility of media organizations; Nigerian women must also be self-driven and take full advantage of media trends.

This story was supported by Code for Africa’s WanaData initiative and the World Association for Christian Communication


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