40 top women executives from EBU Members met in Helsinki on 7 and 8 February, at the invitation of Yle, for the 5th Women Executives in Media (WEM) meeting which this year was dedicated to Women and Sport.
Amongst the speakers was Former Finnish President Tarja Halonen who encouraged the media executives to continue making women’s sport more available:
"There is still a huge difference in the media coverage of women’s and men´s sport in Europe," Halonen told the gathered execs.
"But not only the quantity, but also the quality is different. Often, women are portrayed differently than male athletes, both in images and in the language used. I understand that fewer women work as sport journalists and editors, but we should find ways to request how both male and female actors could mainstream gender equality. Tell how you have made the difference and do not forget your sense of humour.” (Full speech here)
A panel of made up of women athletes discussed how to create good stories and the pressure of being a role model having to build their own brand and take care of it. They urged the participants to create opportunities, to find more women's stories to demonstrate their diversity and achievements. The panel concluded by saying: “to be more equal, we have to be clever” . The executives present agreed to fight the constant stereotyping which is still common in Europe.
The directors of SVT and Yle's Sports departments, Asa Edlund Jönsson and Panu Pokkinen, shared their approach. SVT sports wants to be relevant for more people, to be the news leader in Sports. All this helps in terms of gender equality. SVT's strategy is “how can we be better tomorrow?” How can we speak, how can we use the right words?” Edlund Jönsson advised the group to be specific about the questions that athletes are asked. Yle has created new formats and aims to broadcast fewer games but ones where women and men are equal. For Yle, it is a matter of pace and perspective.
Commenting on the two day meeting Cliona O' Leary Deputy Head of TV Sport at RTE said: “It was a pleasure to be a part of the very positive, warm, welcoming, safe and open forum you produced. It is a topic many of us work on behind the scenes but rarely speak up about in public because sport is a very male dominated environment.
"It was a pleasure to meet so many people involved in women in media and women in sport over the few days. I really appreciated the honesty with which everyone spoke and the very helpful and supportive network you have delivered for those of us working in sport in PSM, to assist us in our efforts to effect change.“
WEM 2018 ended with at tour of Yle's Olympic Games studios built exclusively for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.