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In Italy, female editor signals women's rise

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"In Italy, we have had the perception that a political paper is not supposed to cover women's right or social issues," adds a female journalist at L'Unità, who wishes not to be identified.

Women readers of the newspaper are as excited as some L'Unità employees by the appointment. "I am as happy as a child to see a woman finally running the paper," says Maria Anna Sabelli, a doctor in Milan who has been reading L'Unità for 30 years.

Gregorio herself, who was not available for comment, tends to downplay the novelty. "It's not as if I'll produce a 'pink' newspaper and that's it," she said last month in an interview with Radio 24.

Italian women in the newsroom

Gregorio's editorship is part of a wider trend of Italian women succeeding in the national media. In 2000, Flavia Perina became the first female editor of the far-right daily Il Secolo d'Italia, and in 2002, Daniela Hamaui became the first woman to head L'Espresso, an investigative news magazine.

"Journalism is the one field where we will soon reach gender equality," says Franco Abruzzo, a professor at the Carlo de Martino Institute for Education in Journalism in Milan.

He adds that 45 percent of professional journalists in Milan are women and that the percentage is expected to grow as 50 percent of young apprentices are female. "My female students are studying the most and working harder," he says.

Italy's track record for female employment in the media resembles that of other European countries. In Britain, Rosie Boycott was appointed editor of The Independent in 1998. Currently, two major British papers, The Sun and Daily Star, are headed by women. And while none of the major newspapers in Spain have female editors in chief, El Mundo and El Paìs have female deputy editors.

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