On this episode of Pull Quotes, in honour of International Women’s Day, host Emma Jones talks to Tracee Herbaugh about balancing a career as writer with being a mom.
Newsrooms continue to be dominated by men, however, the presence of women is slowly increasing. In 2018, 41.7 percent of newsroom employees were female, compared to 39.1 percent in 2017, according to a 2018 survey by the American Society of News Editors.
But while representation of women is increasing, the experience of men and women in the newsroom may not always be equal. In 2015, a survey by the University of Kansas found that female journalists were more likely to experience burnout than their male counterparts. The survey of 1600 working journalists, including 500 women, also found that a majority of women surveyed (67 percent) were planning to leave the field entirely compared to 55 percent of male respondents. This result was higher than the previous survey conducted in 2009, which found that 62 percent of female respondents intended to leave the field.
While not the only concern facing women in the newsroom, motherhood no doubt contributes to a part of the burnout.
“The industry is bound to the nature of news, which is unpredictable, 24/7, and happens everywhere,” writes Julianna Goldman in an article for the Atlantic. “…Moms are expected to do their job like it’s their only responsibility, even though they’re also working the mom shift.
“If you decline an assignment, you may be labeled a problem or deemed not to be a team player.”
Concerningly, many of the women interviewed for the Atlantic article asked to remain anonymous out of concern for potential backlash by their employers. It seems that even as the world of journalism confronts gender inequality, women remain concerned that speaking up will be a detriment to their career.
Sharon and Tracee Herbaugh
Tracee Herbaugh is a freelance writer, having written for the Washington Post, the New York Times and Salon, among other publications. Currently focusing on supporting her family through the pandemic, Tracee has previously written about how her mother, Sharon Herbaugh’s, decision to focus on her career rather than motherhood, impacted her own choices as a journalist and mother.
Sharon Herbaugh was a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press in the late 80s and early 90s. Her first foreign posting was as the news editor in New Delhi, India in 1988. She was then promoted to bureau chief in Islamabad, Pakistan. In 1993, Sharon was covering a story about efforts to remove landmines in the area when the helicopter she was traveling in is thought to have experienced engine failure near Pul-i-Khumri, Afghanistan. Sharon was killed in the crash along with 14 other people. She was the first woman to be killed on assignment for the Associated Press.
After her death, the world of journalism found out a surprising revelation. Sharon had a daughter who was being raised by Sharon’s parents in a small town in Colorado.
Tracee Herbaugh was born when Sharon was 25 and was sent to live with her grandparents while Sharon focused on her career. Although Sharon did not divulge the identity of Tracy’s father, she would find out his identity through an Ancestry DNA test when Tracy was 38. He was also a reporter at the Associated Press and 20 years older than Sharon. He was married at the time and had known about Tracy but chose not to be involved.
Tracee later chose to become a journalist herself and has written at length about her anger and hurt at her parents’ choices. She also reflects on how her parents actions have impacted her own decisions as a mother and as a modern career woman.
Emma Jones, Podcast Editor & this week’s host
Joe Fish, Podcast Producer
Saniya Rashid, Chief of Research
Alex Ramsay, Fact Checker
Tyler Griffin, Copy Chief
Jemma Dooreleyers, Review Journalist
Sonya Fatah, Executive Producer
Lindsay Hanna, Digital Content & Web Design Specialist