We Need to Talk About Class

11 September, 2023

On August 24, Women in Journalism Scotland hosted an industry-leading panel discussion addressing the often-overlooked challenges faced by working-class women in journalism. 

The event, We Need to Talk About Class, held at the iconic Glasgow Women’s Library, shone a spotlight on the hidden obstacles encountered by working-class journalists, not only in Scotland but throughout the industry.

This groundbreaking debate delved into a range of issues, from the burden of expensive tuition fees to media narratives often unfriendly to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Attendees gained valuable insights into the unique challenges that working-class women journalists face as they enter the media world.

The intricate intersection of class and gender in journalism emerged as a central theme. Our panellists, including award-winning writer Audrey Gillan, columnist and reporter Catriona Stewart, and HuffPost’s lifestyle editor, Dayna McAlpine, shared their personal experiences and offered advice on navigating the industry. They highlighted the unique skills that working-class journalists can bring to the newsroom.

Iris Pase, the event’s chair and a committee member of Women in Journalism Scotland, emphasised that the panel provided attendees with an opportunity to reflect on their preconceived notions and biases surrounding class. It also illuminated ways to improve newsrooms and universities for greater inclusion and diversity.

The event received support from various sponsors: the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Journalists’ Charity, and Diageo. 

Harriet Anderson, JRF’s Senior Media Manager, said: “This was a really engaging event with speakers who brought a wealth of their own experiences to the issue – looking not only at what class diversity means for careers in journalism but for the quality and relevance of the media outputs that get produced. 

“It was especially good to see that the organisers and the speakers were able to create a supportive environment where women in journalism at all levels felt able to get involved in the discussion and speak openly about their own thoughts, backgrounds and experiences.”

The insights and advice shared during the event are being compiled into an online resource that will soon be accessible to anyone who might need it. This collective effort aims to provide support and empowerment to individuals embarking on their unique journeys into the journalism industry.

As the media landscape continues to evolve, the focus on inclusivity and diversity becomes increasingly vital. Women in Journalism Scotland’s We Need to Talk About Class panel represents a significant step forward in recognising and addressing the barriers faced by working-class women journalists. It is reshaping the future of journalism in Scotland and beyond, ensuring a more inclusive and equitable industry for all.