Current Issue Summary

Vol. 49, No. 2, Spring 2021

Study Underscores Gender Asymmetry in Jobs, Coverage

To elevate the issue of gender equality in the news media and in support of the Generation Equality Forum1, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commissioned Luba Kassova, director of international audience strategy consultancy AKAS Ltd, to research the performance of a set of gender equality indicators and provide benchmarks for them.  The findings, of representation of women in media employment and content, show continuing shortcomings, including:

  — The under-representation of women in news organizations has persisted, especially at leadership and governance levels (as well as at ownership levels although not quantified in this report), over the last few decades. There has been no discernible improvement in this indicator in any of the examined countries in the 21st century (with marginal improvement in only two). Women form a minority of leaders, governors and top managers in news organizations in all of the countries examined.

 — Women’s share of quoted voice in news has not reached parity in any news genre in the six countries, including arts and media or health – the genres where women’s voices are quoted most often.

The detailed report is available here, hosted by the International Women’s Media Foundation: https://www.iwmf.org/missing-perspectives/ 

Conversations with Media Women Expose Persistent Challenges

The past few months have yielded productive and important discussions with veteran journalists and media scholars, thanks to Zoom and other interactive apps. While it is beyond exciting to see the female talent that exists in the profession, it’s disturbing to know how hard the fight for professional parity continues to be, even for those near the top of their careers.  Furthermore, hostility toward journalism and journalists seems to fall disproportionately – and most savagely – on women.  MRTW summarizes four of the discussions in this issue, with links to the full conversations.

No Progress in 30 Years of Women’s Sports Coverage, Study Says

Women’s sports receive the same amount of news coverage as they did in the 1980s, according to a study of sports reporting over three decades.

The study was released in March during the same week that female college basketball coaches and university administrators expressed outrage over the disparity of facilities and services for women and men competing in the NCAA national basketball tournament.

When women are given airtime, the coverage is lower in technical quality and production value when compared with coverage of men’s sports, the study finds. Even when social and digital media are taken into account, women athletes remain at the periphery of sports reporting. Details from Professor Cheryl Cooky at ccooky@purdue.edu.

Malign Creativity: How Gender, Sex, and Lies are Weaponized Against Women Online

Released in early 2021, this report from the Wilson Center in Washington, DC,  strives to build awareness of the direct and indirect impacts of gendered and sexualized disinformation on women in public life, as well as its corresponding impacts on national security and democratic participation. In an analysis of online conversations about 13 female politicians across six social media platforms, totaling over 336,000 pieces of abusive content shared by over 190,000 users over a two-month period, the report defines, quantifies, and evaluates the use of online gendered and sexualized disinformation campaigns against women in politics and beyond. It also uses three in-depth interviews and two focus groups to emphasize the impacts gendered abuse and disinformation have on women’s daily lives.  https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/malign-creativity-how-gender-sex-and-lies-are-weaponized-against-women-online

Research in Depth: “Libbers’ March”: Newspapers and the 50th Anniversary of U.S. Women’s Suffrage by Dana Dabek, Temple University

Research in Depth:  How Radio Brought Women into the Public Sphere: Four Unique Women Broadcasters by Donna Halper

Retrospective: The Association of Food Journalists — Dissolved, With Regret by Kimberly Wilmot Voss, University of Central Florida

Plus News Briefs and Book Reviews!

Media Report to Women has hard copies of back issues dating to its founding in 1972 and PDFs from more recent years. Indispensable for research!