#IWD: Sarah Booker – ‘Journalism is a profession where anyone can prove themselves’

This post, written by regional journalist Sarah Booker, to mark International Women’s Day, is also posted on her blog: SarahBooker.wordpress.com.

Judge people on merit. That’s a philosophy I’ve always had and how I judge others.

As a teenager I opted to study physics at O-level, rather than biology, purely because it was a “boys subject”. It didn’t matter that I’d come top of the year in biology, I had a point to make. We girls were encouraged to challenge gender stereotypes and consider careers in engineering.

Those of us who didn’t take this road were confident enough to fulfil our ambitions. During my years as a journalist some of the most inspirational people I have worked with have been women.

Part of me feels lucky as I have never felt discriminated against in the newsroom. Any sexism I have experienced has been in jest and not bullying. Jokes about not understanding the off-side rule, or the line “of course I forget you are a girl”, are brushed off with a laugh.

I have worked as the only woman in a news team, and been part of a female dominated newspaper office. Many of the journalists I admire who report on and work in online journalism are women.

However, at meetings with other Johnston Press web editors I’m frequently the only woman. I have always felt welcomed and valued at these meetings, bringing my take on various issues, and suggesting new ideas.

All of us are there on merit, and judged on merit, and that’s all that matters. I’ve always thought journalism is a profession where anyone can prove themselves. Women are in positions of power throughout the industry, which suggests there is no glass ceiling here.

I just hope girls growing up today see their future in terms of what they find interesting and can do, rather than what is expected based on a chromosome.

Does Sarah’s view fit in with your own observations and experiences? Please do leave a comment about your own thoughts on women in journalism, to mark today’s International Women’s Day.

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