Women working in Australian media are facing intimidation at work place including sexual harassment. This was an important revelation from a recent survey, in which 40 percent of the respondents, admitted to have been harassed, intimidated and trolled on social media.

The study named as ‘Mates over Merit’: The Women in Media Report was commissioned by Women in Media, an advocacy group backed by the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA).

The study paints a murky picture of the Australian media with its ‘blokey’ culture where mates are rewarded more than the meritorious. The study documents sexual harassment, abuse, scant regard on work-family balance, and glaring disparity in pay on the basis of gender, reports Forbes.

The survey by iSentia took data from 1,054 Australian journalists. It was conducted between September and December 2015, and had 91.8 percent women as respondents.

According to Katelin McInerney, Director of MEAA’s Media section, the union would take the report to media employers and persuade them to conduct audits and address the issue of gender pay gap. It will also follow up on strategies to tackle social media harassment and discrimination at work place.

There were extreme threats faced by Aussie women media personnel. They ranged from death threats to instances of stalking.  While many were silenced, a section of them switched their careers, the report said.

Among the respondents, one print journalist spoke of “quite constant death and rape threats when working in federal politics and writing a weekly column… It’s honestly par for the course for women in federal politics.”

“Progress towards equality for women in media is disappointingly slow,” said Tracey Spicer, national convenor of Women In Media. Spicer has been an anchor at Australia’s Sky News.

Some of the important findings of the study are

  • Half of the women respondents reported intimidation, abuse or sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • Wider gender pay gap in which newspaper publishing had a 21.6 percent pay gap and broadcasting showing a 23.8 percent gap.
  • No mechanism to check discrimination despite policies that are “on paper, not in practice.”
  • Only 11 percent of respondents rated policies as “very effective”.
  • Obvious discrimination against women who took maternity leave. They are put on the ‘mummy track’ upon return to work.

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield announced an overhaul in Australia’s media ownership laws. The unbundling intends to break the entrenched “75 percent reach” and “two out of three” rules that proscribe media organizations from owning more outlets in other media formats, reports the Conversation.