Women Missing from US Media

Published: 21 February 2014

Country: US

wmcMen or more precisely, white men dominate the content and the newsrooms in US media. According to the new study, 90 percent of sports editors are white men and on the front pages of New York Times, men are three times more quoted than women, although that number declines when women wrote the article.

Women are more than half of US population, but that fact is not reflected in American media, or in TV and film industry. As new report by the Women Media Center (WMC) shows, women had very little roles with speaking parts and there were 565 directors in top American movies for the last five years. Only 33 were women and only two were black women. “The numbers tell a clear story for the need for change on every media platform”, says Julie Burton, president of WMC founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem.

wmc_survey_2014._2American media is nowhere near achieving gender parity when it comes to who gets hired. Sports journalism remains one of the biggest offenders, as a white, male-dominated field, though the bigger picture isn’t much brighter, with the percentage of women of colour dropping in newspaper and magazine newsrooms overall, reports Columbia Journalism Review.

There were 36 percent of women sitting in US media newsrooms, almost the same figure since 1999. Analysis of the representation of women of colour in US newsrooms though, shows much greater fluctuation. There were less women of Asian descent, black women, Hispanic and Native American women in the newsrooms as well as multi-racial women.

While the lack of diversity in cable news, newspaper A-sections, and on talk radio is appalling, it’s not shocking. What is surprising is that so few organizations are tracking the progress of women and other marginalized groups in digital media”, writes Ann Friedman in Columbia Journalism Review.

By asking for more data on digital media gender and race representation analysis, Friedman is highlighting the importance of tracking digital media in a systematic way now.

Most reports take into account the demographics of the target audience when they evaluate whether media-makers are sufficiently diverse. And make no mistake: The audience online is diverse. A greater percentage of women than men use nearly every social media platform, according to Pew. (The exception is the male-dominated Reddit, and Twitter, which is used by 18 percent of men and 17 percent of women.) While the Women’s Media Center report cites these figures on female users and also references the low number of women who’ve chosen to pursue tech careers, there was apparently little research to cite on the race and gender of digital editorial gatekeepers”, says Friedman.