Left to right: Sophia Jones, Daniella Zalcman, Tara Todras-Whitehill and Jasmine Garsd Garcia at a South By Southwest featured event on March 10. Photo by: Elisa Garcia

In 2017, Women Photograph, the initiative to “elevate the voice of female photojournalists”, tracked the lead photo bylines by gender for eight top publications around the world which revealed the gap in gender representation and echoed a need for female mentors.

The results showed 6.2 percent female for the Wall Street Journal to 23.4 percent female for The San Francisco Chronicle. That means 94 percent of journalist who get lead photos published are men.

Photo by: Women Photograph

These are pretty grimm numbers, according to Founder and Director of Women Photograph Daniella Zalcman, who was a panelist at a South By Southwest panel on March 10.

Yet, the numbers have been bleak for some time. In 2015, only 24 percent of voices heard or seen were women, Zalcman said. Prior to that, in 2013, men were quoted three times more than women on the New York Times front page, she said.

“We get caught in these echo chambers. We reinforce power. We reinforce power structures,” Zalcman said. “If we are truly trying to expand and broaden our concept of who’s important and what voices matter, we need to be looking for new voices.”

There aren’t a lot of women journalist past the age of 45 or 50, so there’s not that ‘hey, that’s the life I want’ moment for the women that are breaking into the field, panelist Tara Todras-Whitehill said.

“Part of that is implicit with women making different choices,” Todras-Whitehill said. “Working, traveling, covering conflict can make them think about having a family and feel that they have to make those choices that change their lives,” she said.

A solution to diversify journalism is mentorship. Panelist Sophia Jones believes mentorship recognizes the problem and is a way to increase the number of females in journalism.

“When I started interning, there wasn’t any female mentors and so I had male mentors,” Jones said. “If they’re older white males, there’s a lot of room for bad things to happen. If we have more women that are teaching aspiring female journalist how to be journalist, I think it really opens that doors.”

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