A director of one of the world’s main journalist organizations said Monday the status of female journalists worldwide has improved considerably but the issues of opportunity and gender equality still need to be addressed.

Bettina Peters, director of the worldwide Project Division of the International Federation of Journalists, told the one-day Asia Women Journalists Conference that one way of achieving better employment conditions and a better portrayal of women in the media “is by the security of numbers.”

Peters said women have yet to push for better employment conditions that would give them equal pay and career opportunities, despite the rise in the number of female journalists around the world.

She said that with more women in the newsroom, more women’s issues can be taken up and a “more fair and accurate” portrayal of women, in contrast to stereotypes of females as subservient, can be achieved.

Peters said women usually face what she called the “famous glass ceiling,” which keeps them from advancing to the decision-making level in the media.

Some have a hard time striking a balance between family and career demands, she said, adding that there is also the problem of job segregation; women “tend to be pushed to certain areas or topics in the media” — such as the social and cultural.

On the issue of equal pay, Peters lamented that despite the existence of legislation on equal pay, in reality there is still a wide gap between female and male journalists.

The former freelance journalist and media researcher also said the role of a journalists’ union is vital in helping to create social structures that allow women to work at the same level as men.

Journalists from the Asia-Pacific region reported on the status of female journalists in their respective countries, including Australia, Indonesia, Mongolia and Japan.

The event, held at Tokyo’s Chiyoda Broadcasting Hall, was sponsored by the U.N. Information Center and National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan.

Founded in 1926, the Brussels-based IFJ represents more than 450,000 reporters, editors, photojournalists and broadcasters in 130 organizations in various countries and aims to protect the social and professional rights of journalists.