Gender in the news media: 17% af news subjects are women

14% of business persons in media are women.
Resumé: Women are rare when it comes to interviews as business persons – 14%. “they are mostly asked to provide popular opinion (41%) or personal experience (38%): they were only quoted as ’experts’ in 17% of stories,” according to a research from The Global Media Monitoring Project.

Edited by Peter Horn

The Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) is the world’s longest-running and most extensive research on gender in the news media. It began in 1995 when volunteers in 71 countries around the world monitored women’s presence in their national radio, television and print news. The research revealed that only 17% of news subjects – the people who are interviewed or whom the news is about – were women. It found that gender parity was ‘a distant prospect in any region of the world. News [was] more often being presented by women but it [was] still rarely about women.

The following is an executive summary of the research, made in more than 100 countries:

The news agenda
Across the European region, we coded a total of 8425 news items, disaggregated as follows: print 2462; radio 1201; TV 1310; internet 1503 and twitter 1949. Although the volume of items across the five media are varied, there is a remarkable consistency when we consider the most frequent story topic with politics/government and social/legal both making it into the top three for all five media, with economy and crime/media also making into the top three for two media (print and radio for economy and crime/violence for TV and the internet). Only twitter articles saw the more entertainment-focused category of celebrity/arts/media and sports featuring highly, in that case as the second most popular story topic.

News subjects and sources
Overall, we coded 17,364 individual sources (12,417 from print/radio and TV and 4,947 from internet/twitter stories, of which 25% of the former and 25% of the latter were women. Overall, then, women comprise a quarter of all news sources but they are significantly under-represented in the story categories which have most prestige and prominence, those about politics/government and the economy. When we look at the occupation of news sources, nearly 60% of individuals coded as students or pupils are female as are 57% of homemakers, 49% of health, social and childcare workers, 47% of sex workers and 43% of retired people. This means that women are significantly over-represented in those occupational groups with the least status and under-represented in occupations with high social standing such as academic expert (23%), politician (21%) or business person (14%). In terms of the function which women perform in news as sources and subjects, they are mostly asked to provide popular opinion (41%) or personal experience (38%): they were only quoted as ’experts’ in 17% of stories.

The news writers and announcers
When we look at who is writing those news articles, we see a familiar pattern in terms of gendered news beats, with more than a third of women reporters writing social and legal news. We coded a total of 6087 reporters and announcers of whom 41% women, disaggregated by media as follows: print 34%; radio 40%; and TV 48%. Given that women comprise 37% of all reporters we coded, they are over-represented as writing stories in the categories of science/health (44%), the economy (43%) and celebrity/arts/media/sport (42%). In other words, in arguably the most prestigious category of news (politics and government),certainly in terms of front page stories (notwithstanding large-scale tragedies), they write just 30% of such news.

New media
Across the digital landscape, we coded 1503 internet stories and 1949 stories on Twitter. There were relatively few differences between traditional and new media in terms of women’s visibility as sources and subjects, both in terms of proportions (in relation to men), in the types of story in which they featured and their function. Women’s overall presence in new media was 25%, the same as for the combined media of print/radio/television. There were differences in terms of the balance between different topic types but this did not make a difference to women’s relatively visibility in stories about politics or stories about disaster. The same gendered journalism was seen in online news and Twitter feeds as we saw in traditional news, so that women are much more likely to write internet stories with a science/health slant (46%) or social/legal focus (42%) than politics (37%) or crime (33%).
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