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17th February 2017

Women in Media Conference 2017

With this year’s conference weeks away, we discuss why events such as this are important in ensuring aspiring female journalists and media professionals have the tools to succeed in a cut-throat industry

At the end of last year’s Women in Media Conference, I received a message from one of the delegates. She wrote to tell me: “I only recently started being honest to myself about my interest in getting into journalism… I used to play it down and hide behind by lack of confidence.”

However she went on to tell me how “being around likeminded people really has made me more confident”.

It was after reading this message that I decided that the conference could not be a one-off. Building the confidence of female students considering a career in the media is exactly why the conference was born, and even if we had succeeded in boosting the confidence of just one delegate, it was worth the energy.

More women than ever are entering into the media: 65 per cent of journalists entering the profession over the past three years have been women, and our own Mancunion editorial team has more women on it than ever before, so it may seem from this fact alone that our work is done. Women have the confidence now to not see their gender as an initial exclusionary barrier to entering the media.

The keyword here, though, is ‘initial’. While at the lowest levels women now outnumber men, they are still on average paid significantly less than their male counterparts and only 22 per cent of female journalists are in senior management positions.

With the large numbers of female journalists coming through the ranks, the next generation could potentially see these figures toppled. However, it is because of this that events such as Women in Media Conference 2017 are so important — with real change on the horizon, it is not the time to be complacent.

Until those in the lower echelons of the media are encouraged to realise that the current statistics do not represent how the media should look, and as long as they are not introduced to role models who have reached the level they aspire to, then many may not be able to imagine that this could change.

While teaching a class of Year 9s last year, one told me simply that journalism was not a job for women — we need to make it easier to prove to this 13-year-old and many more around the world how wrong this is, and to do this we need more visible role models in senior levels of the media.

The only way of doing this is working from the bottom up — ensuring that women entering the media are doing so with an unflinching drive and determination to reach the top, and the belief that they will not be held back.

Ultimately, the conference aims to celebrate the incredible successes women have had within the media, to ensure that people are inspired and not deterred by discussing the obstacles or difficulties they may face. Our speakers will be living proof that our position within the media has vastly improved — the statistics may still be far from perfect, but instead of dwelling on the negatives, let’s highlight how far we have come to ensure that it keeps improving.

Last year’s conference was incredible, with over 70 delegates attending from all over the country to listen and learn from some of the very best women in the media.

This year it is only going to get better.

Our venue for Women in Media 2017, the People’s History Museum in Manchester City Centre, could not be more perfect, as the museum’s championing of “ideas worth fighting for” perfectly encapsulates the motivation behind the conference. What began as a realisation that less women, even at a student level, were embarking on careers in the media then turned into a few speakers coming to encourage our team, which then became a national conference, now supported by Amnesty International UK and the NUS. For us, it is clear that our ideas were definitely worth fighting for.

Guest speakers for this year’s conference include: Harriet Minter, the BBC’s Shelley Alexander, Kate Cocker, Nazia Parveen from The Guardian, Youtuber Grace Victory, BBC Breakfast’s Steph McGovern, Megan Lucero, Sue Turton, Channel 4’s Karthi Gnanasegaram and we even have our very own Polly Bartlett, one of last year’s co-founders, returning to speak about having ‘just made it in the media’.

The conference will include a diverse range of panel discussions with speakers from BAME and LGBTQ+ communities, and a talk on entering the media from a working class background. Alongside these we will have workshops on data journalism, developing ideas, getting into documentaries, and Q&A sessions on sports journalism, political reporting and a special Amnesty International panel ‘Journalism Under Threat’, where Sue Turton will discuss her experiences as one of the Al Jazeera journalists convicted by an Egyptian court on terrorism charges.

Students and young women from around the UK will get the opportunity to hear about and learn from these inspiring and successful women in media, as well as the chance to network and take part in this pioneering event. These speakers are just a few examples of what the conference has to offer, and there are still some very exciting announcements to be made.

Hareem Ghani, the NUS Women’s Officer, said about this year’s conference: “We know that women and their skills are under-represented at all levels of the media industry, which is why it’s so amazing to see what started as a small group of student journalists become such a ground breaking event.

“Hosting high profile inspirational speakers from journalism, TV, radio and blogging, the day allows young women thinking about careers in media to gain key skills and leave feeling empowered about their future.”

The conference will be held at the People’s History Museum in Manchester on the 4–5th of March 2017.

To see the full timetable so far visit our website at and join our Facebook event, and follow us on Twitter @womeninmediacon for all the updates about the conference.

Weekend and individual day tickets, at student-friendly prices, are still available on our website.

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