Gender (in)equality has been a hot topic since, well, forever. And it was recently thrust into the spotlight after a series of A-list actresses quite rightly shone the spotlight on Hollywood’s astonishing gender-related pay gap.
And now, a new survey has come out to expose the startling lack of women seen on our TVs, in our newspapers and on our radios.
We’re talking specifically about the news here. Yes, we may have come on some way in terms of putting women in front of the camera to present the news – Kate Adie, Fiona Bruce and Natasha Kaplinsky are all repping it for the girls – but when it comes to the people heard, read about or seen in newspaper, TV and radio news, women only make up a measly 24%.
We know, it’s shocking, right? Not to mention damaging – the news remains the most influential source of information, ideas and opinion for most people around the world. If women aren’t seen or heard from on these platforms, what does that mean for gender equality?
These are the findings of the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), which studied data from 114 countries across Europe over a single day.
As well as the startlingly low overall statistic, the study also found that women were under-represented in politics and hard news stories, and were massively over-represented as voices coming from ‘female’ occupations, such as homemakers, mums, social and childcare workers. Stereotypical, much?
‘Women only comprise 19% of sources or subjects in political news stories reported in TV, radio and print and 17% in new media articles’, Dr Karen Ross, Professor of Media at Northumbria University, who coordinated the GMMP project for Europe, says. ‘There is something very wrong with this picture.’
We couldn’t agree more.
Karen continues: ‘There seems to be a credibility gap between the real world where we have more women presidents and prime ministers, barristers and surgeons than ever before, and ‘mediaworld’, where women are mostly visible in their role as mothers, wives and victims.’
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Even more startling is the fact that these are the same sort of figures we were seeing in 2010, meaning we have barely made any progression over the past five years when it comes to equal gender portrayal in news media.
‘News media shape the way people view the world and this research shows that women’s visibility in news is no better now in 2015 than five years ago’, Stephen Brown, President of WACC’s Europe region, says. ‘We need to tackle this situation by engaging men as well as women in news rooms, media management and training for journalists.’
And this is the thing. There ARE things we can do to get these statistics looking a little less depressing for us women.
‘Get keyboarding, texting and blogging’, Dr Ross recommends. ‘We need to create and distribute our own news and social media provide brilliant platforms for this.’
She continues: ‘Write to the major media houses asking to see more women appearing in front of and behind the camera. Write to your local press asking to see more stories on topics in which we are interested. Join campaigns which focus on this topic and share interesting news. Start your own petition.’
‘We can become journalists and change the profession from the inside, a bit like this article!’
You heard her. Let’s change this shocking statistic, pronto,