Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Discrimination in the workplace composed a survey asking female employees to rate discrimination (if there was any) in their office environments, and the company found (somewhat unsurprisingly) staggering results.

A quarter of those interviewed felt some sort of discrimination in the workplace -- either sexually, economically or otherwise. The numbers go up if the woman is a minority, over 50 years old, or if she is lesbian or bisexual.

As a freelance journalist, who works from home, the thought of discrimination comes across my mind often. In order to make money I come up with an idea, research, interview, write, edit, and then pitch the story to publications that would benefit from the article. It is not an easy thing to do. Often I attempt to create catchy email subject lines so that I may capture the attention of my editors, but when I hear nothing back, I wonder if I am being discriminated against.

My articles are often very in-depth -- research is my passion -- and I take great strides to get as many sources as possible; sometimes cramming too much information in to the 3,000 words. Thus, surprise creeps up when my piece is not accepted. I wonder if it is because I am a woman, and I refer to my self as freelance. Do editors see my name and title and think I am lazy, reliant on a husband at home; interviewing with a baby on each hip? Not that these ideas are a bad thing for those who choose this route, but this is not me. I work diligently on my articles, and I believe that my stories are often rejected because I am a woman, and thus, my articles must be innaccurate or too emotional.

Other times, my articles will be accepted, but a male writer's article will make front page, and mine will find its way in to the middle of the rag. I have to question whether or not there is discrimination here -- particularly when my article may be about a significant discussion in society, while the front page article is about an author who is in town. I know papers (and other mediums) need to sell papers, but at what cost? Is it better to have more people pick up the paper, or more important to be fair to staffers by advocating for diversity?

This is a struggle that we all have to live through -- and as a feminist I question these values all of the time. One would imagine that I would save myself from unnecessary workplace discrimination by working at home, but it appears that there are just as many hurdles in place.