With the emergence of the media industry, many shifted from more traditional jobs to get into this industry of creativity and knowledge. Although women were previously unseen in this environment, more and more had strayed out of their homes into the welcoming arm of office spaces which allowed them to use, share and develop their creative skills and share their work with the world.
According to a census by the American Society of News Editors, two out of three women are in the media industry. Furthermore, women are encouraged to obtain media professions especially as journalists. Many believe that women can work their way into getting stories that many others can’t.
The percentage of women journalists in Oman is quite good. A study conducted by the Sultan Qaboos University showed that among 257 of journalists, 102 are female, which means 39.7% of the overall sample.
After interviewing several Omani female journalists from government institutes, it was discovered that although women journalists had no restrictions when it came to covering media events and stories, they are however challenged by some cultural and societal expectations which proved not only inconvenient in the execution of their job but restricting their movements as well.
“In my institute, I am allowed to freely attend any event inside and outside of the Sultanate. But, because of my family responsibility, I cannot leave home for long hours especially during midnight for field coverage outside Oman,” a female reporter shared.
In Oman, journalists or the media field does not discriminate between male and female journalists but issues often raise from societal expectations where women are also expected to take care of domestic responsibilities along with taking care of the home and their children. Although many women are happily balancing home and work as seen throughout the country, it can sometimes pose challenges and become difficult for others to manage both.
On the other hand, women appreciate their profession and they don’t think of shifting to another industry. Mai Alabri, who’s an Omani reporter said that she likes her job and enjoys being a journalist.
“But If I had the chance to change my profession, I might shift to PR in any ministry because of their shorter working hours,” she shared.
Zainab al Nassri who’s the head of local news in Oman Daily Observer said that no female journalist has ever become an Editor-in-Chief because of the nature of work. She explained that Chiefs are usually forced to go outside for long work hours not mention do night duties
“In fact Rafi’a al Nasri was the chief editor in Almar’a magazine, but not anymore. It’s a societal perspective to not encourage woman to choose hard jobs,” she said.
Many local women journalists also, with respect to their upbringing, culture and the society in general, also avoid covering field events.
Many young women who are studying journalism find it difficult to get into any other media fields with a female editor commenting, “Journalism is a wide world with various scope that requires a journalist to be aware of how to write for sports, science, features and other fields.”
Despite the different obstacles faced by Omani female journalists, it isn’t uncommon to see names of female journalists and encounter them at events as more and more women join the field and explore a world outside of the norm.
Omaima Al Kindi