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‘I don’t do tea and coffee’

By Cloe Read and Alexandra Bernard

Some of Australia’s most high-profile female journalists have been asked to make coffee, overlooked for promotions and criticised for emotional responses in the workplace.

The discussion came out of the Wonder Women panel at the 2017 Women in Media Conference, featuring The Weekend Australian Magazine editor Christine Middap, Channel 10 presenter Sandra Sully, ABC Presenter Karina Carvalho, NewsLifeMedia associate publisher Claire Bradley and broadcast executive Anita Jacoby.

They told stories of being overlooked for positions, bullied to tears in the workplace and yes, even being asked to make coffee.

“I told him ‘I don’t do tea and coffee – what, are your legs broken?’” Sully said.

This was one of the many situations the panellists found themselves in.

Jacoby took a risk when the position she applied for was given to two others before her. She later handed in her resignation which paid off, ultimately resulting in her job at 60 Minutes.

Sully recalls getting into a dispute in the office which resulted in tears.

It was the first and last time. If you have to cry, go to the bathroom, panellists said.

The idea of women feeling inadequate in the media industry was raised many times during the discussion.

Claire Bradley. Photo: Tim Marsden.

Most panellists said they felt they were still bluffing their way through their careers and suffering from ‘imposter syndrome’ even though they were at the top of their industry.

But they agreed the best way for journalists to overcome this was to reassure themselves of their abilities.

“[My mentor] showed me that I don’t have to be anyone else and it was okay to have the quiet confidence,” Middap. said.

Christine Middap. Photo: Tim Marsden.

Despite criticising aspects of the media industry, many panellists also shared positive experiences with male colleagues.

“It’s not a ‘them and us’ situation,” Middap said.

“Gender should be irrelevant,” Jacoby said.

Four out of the five panellists said that men became strong mentors for them in their career.

“He gave me a go … I had no presenting experience,” said Carvalho, about a previous boss who opened doors for her.

This allowed them to see the importance of the relationships you make with colleagues.

“It’s not about playing the gender card…diversity is the most critical thing,” Sully said.


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