The Invisible Woman

invisible womanMedia dominates our lives and strongly influences our views and opinions. Therefore it matters how we include and portray men and women in the media. With this in mind it’s somewhat shocking to read the preliminary report of the 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project released on March 2nd.

Among the key findings are:

  • 24% of the people interviewed, heard, seen or read about in mainstream broadcast and print news are female; only 16% of all stories focus specifically on women.
  • Women have achieved near parity as givers of popular opinion in news stories. But less than one out of every five experts interviewed is female, and men predominate strongly as eyewitnesses and providers of personal experience in news stories.
  • Almost one half (48%) of all news stories reinforce gender stereotypes, while 8% of news stories challenge gender stereotypes. Women in the news are identified by their familial relationships (wife, mother, daughter) five times more often than men.
  • Overall, news stories by female reporters are much fewer than news stories by male reporters.
  • News stories by female reporters have considerably more female news subjects than stories by male reporters and challenge gender stereotypes almost twice as often as stories by male reporters.

The study reveals overall that women remain grossly underrepresented in news coverage in contrast to men, resulting in news that reinforces sex role stereotypes and often portrays women as invisible.

This report needs to be taken seriously by media managers. I have cut and pasted the key findings above and sent e-mails to the following media managers, asking what they intend to do to report more gender balanced and gender responsive news. If you feel strongly about this it would be great if you could contact your local media and do the same. Let’s not just moan about this situation – let’s do something about it.

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