To mark International Women’s Day 2022, we spoke to former Journalism Diversity Fund recipient Sophie Perry about why she wanted to be a journalist, what IWD means to her, and what she has done in her role to challenge inequality and bias. Sophie studied at City of Wolverhampton College and works as a digital reporter at The Oxford Mail.
Why did you want to be a journalist?
Although I was really involved in student journalism throughout my undergraduate and postgraduate studies, it took me quite a while to realise I could actually be a journalist and make it a full-time career. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the first nationwide lockdown, halted my graduate job hunt and gave me chance to stop and take stock of what I wanted. I knew I loved writing, enjoyed learning new things and was passionate about what is right and wrong. I decided to pursue a career in journalism because I realised it would enable me to do all the things I love in a job. One NCTJ course, a lot of exams, a few work placements, and my first journalist job later – I have not looked back.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is extremely important to me and I believe it is a key day for education, celebration and empowerment. Although women are out there doing amazing things around the world 24/7/365, International Women’s Day is a time to hone in on their achievements, raise awareness of their contributions and tackle inequality. I love International Women’s Day because it makes me proud to be a woman.
The theme of IWD this year is ‘Break the Bias’. In what ways have you challenged inequality or bias?
I have sought to challenge inequality in journalism by establishing the LGBTQ+ Journalism Network, a first-of-its-kind network for LGBTQ+ journalists in the UK. The LGBTQ+ Journalism Network is a community space where journalists can connect with each other, share advice and find support, as well as highlight their big wins, job opportunities and many other things. The network was born from the fact that no such group existed, so I created it to fill a much-needed gap. The voices of LGBTQ+ journalists in the UK matter, they always have, and are important for accurately and ethically telling the stories of our community. The LGBTQ+ Journalism network is an important space for sharing the work of our community and showcasing the strength of our voice.
Do you have any advice for women starting their career in journalism?
I have three main pieces of advice:
- Take every opportunity you can, you never know where something will lead or who you will meet along the way.
- If you are struggling to get your foot in the door, make opportunities for yourself – for example start a blog, set up a podcast, pitch stories to publications, attend networking events.
- Be the change you want to see in the world.