Editor’s note: In January 2011, we set out to examine the ways in which women are represented in online news both as sources and as authors. To mark our first year here at The Gender Report, we’re revealing our findings from our year-long studies as well as other statistics and commentaries in a series of posts. View other coverage of our one-year anniversary here.
During our first year of operation, we spent time looking at representations of sex and gender in Internet news through our own studies and as well as those by others. To review what we’ve accomplished and what it says about the state of women in online journalism, we’ve updated our effort at the six-month mark to pull together our stats through a roundup list as well as some graphs (Scroll below the slideshow for the full list of stats plus links). Here’s our recap as well as a good way to check out our work if you are new to The Gender Report.
Through our weekly Gender Checks, which started the week of Jan. 18 and were our cornerstone study, we looked at a total of eight U.S. news websites (one associated with a traditional newspaper and another that is online-only), two from each of the four geographic regions. In that study, we’ve found the following:
-Month 1: Women as 27.6 percent of sources and with 32.3 percent of bylines (of articles by a person or several of one gender or the other, not including shared bylines between a woman and a man)
-Month 2: Women as 20.8 percent of sources and with 33.3 percent of bylines
-Month 3: Women as 23.5 percent of sources and with 26.9 percent of bylines
-Three month totals: Women as 24.6 percent of sources and with 31 percent of bylines
-Month 4: Women as 30.4 percent of sources and with 57.1 percent of bylines
-Month 5: Women as 19.5 percent of sources and with 33.3 percent of bylines
-Month 6: Women as 27 percent of sources and with 43.3 percent of bylines
-Six month totals: Women as 25.3 percent of sources and with 37.7 percent of bylines (34.7% overall)
-Month 7: Women as 24.6 percent of sources and with 35 percent of bylines
-Month 8: Women as 24.3 percent of sources and with 44.8 percent of bylines
-Month 9: Women as 27 percent of sources and with 25 percent of bylines
-Nine month totals: Women as 25.3 percent of sources and with 41.9 percent of bylines
-Month 10: Women as 25.5 percent of sources and with 29 percent of bylines
-Month 11: Women as 34.4 percent of sources and with 31.8 percent of bylines
-Month 12: Women as 24.4 percent of sources and with 27.3 percent of bylines
-One year totals: Women as 26 percent of sources and with 35.3 percent of bylines (32.2 percent overall)
In addition to the basic findings related female sources and authors from this study’s monitoring, we also have explored the role of the articles’ subject and of source order as it relates to gender representation. See the links provided below:
-Six months: Gender Check breakdown: A look at female authors, sources by article subject
-Nine months: Science and health articles showing high female sources, low female bylines
-One year: One year: A look at female authors, sources by article subject in Gender Check study
New Media Index
In addition, we’ve also been examining the sourcing and authorship from the most linked to and talked about articles on the web, via the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s New Media Index:
-January 2011: Women as 21.3 percent of sources and with 33.3 percent of bylines (of articles by a person or several of one gender or the other, not including shared bylines between a woman and a man)
-February 2011: Women as 28 percent of sources and with 41.7 percent of bylines
-March 2011: Women as 15.2 percent of sources and with 28.6 percent of bylines
-April 2011: Women as 25 percent of sources and with 28.6 percent of bylines
-May 2011: Women as 13.3 percent of sources and with 11.1 percent of bylines
-June 2011: Women as 20.2 percent of sources and with 36 percent of bylines
-Six months: Women as 20.2 percent of sources and with 31.3 percent of bylines (26.3 percent overall)
-July 2011: Women as 15 percent of sources and with 50 percent of bylines
-August 2011: Women as 14.1 percent of sources and with 10 percent of bylines
-September 2011: Women as 17.6 percent of sources and with 9.5 percent of bylines
-October 2011: Women as 25 percent of sources and with 15 percent of bylines
-November 2011: Women as 27.2 percent of sources and with 10.5 percent of bylines
-December 2011: Women as 15 percent of sources and with 10 percent of bylines
-One year: Women as 19.1 percent of sources and with 23 percent of bylines (19.6 percent overall)
News Frontier Database
We’ve also spent some time looking at the information that can be gleaned through or as an off-shoot of the Columbia Journalism Review’s News Frontier Database.
- Women made up 28 percent of the “principal staff” of online news outlets (as of June 3, 2011)
- Women were 22 percent of sources and bylined 30 percent of articles overall in a July 1 sample of the lead articles from the 40 “national” online news outlets in the database.
The Gender Report got a shout-out for these studies from Michael Meyer who is in charge of the database during an interview he did with the media blog 10,000 Words in July.
Newsroom staff breakdowns
To look at gender representations in news creation in a different way aside from a byline count, we’ve been taking stock of the breakdown in each newsroom of the news sites included in our Gender Check monitoring via their online staff lists:
West: (As of May 25, 2011)
- Seattle Times: Women as 45.5 percent of staff.
- Seattle P-I: Women as 30 percent of staff.
Midwest: (As of June 22, 2011)
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Women as 31.3 percent of staff.
- St. Louis Beacon: Women as 60 percent of staff.
*Data from the Northeast and the South still to come.
Author gender and source selection
We’ve also looked at whether the author’s gender affected the use of female sources in our different studies. Here’s what each of these studies showed:
-News Frontier Database “national site study: Women were 38 percent of sources in articles by females and 10 percent of sources in articles by males. Women were 37 percent of sources in those articles with a shared byline by a male and a female.
-New Media Index study: Women were 25.1 percent of sources in articles by females and 18.1 percent of sources in articles by males. Women were only 16.7 percent of sources in articles with a shared byline by a male (or several) and a female.
-Gender Check study: Women were 28.3 percent of sources in articles by females and 24 percent of sources in articles by males. Women were 28.7 percent of sources in articles with a shared byline by a male (or several) and a female.
This issue is one that we’ll continue to look at in the future, particularly because of the differences we are seeing in the shared bylines.
For a comparison, here’s what some other studies on the subject of women and journalism (some specifically related to newspapers and some to online outlets) have uncovered:
-American Society of News Editors: 2011 Newsroom Census: Women made up 36.9 percent of those working full time at daily U.S. newspapers.
-International Women’s Media Foundation’s “The Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media” (Released March 2011): Women currently hold 27 percent of top management jobs and 26 percent of governing jobs in the news media globally. Women hold 36 percent of reporter jobs, or positions at the “junior professional level” and 41 percent of positions at the senior professional level, which includes anchors, senior writers and producers.
-Global Media Monitoring Project (2010): Overall, 37 percent of stories were reported by women, and 36 percent of stories in the online samples were bylined by women. Women were 24 percent of news subjects – people heard or read on traditional platforms like newspapers, television and radio in the sample. They were 23 percent of news subjects in the websites monitored.
Check back on The Gender Report for our take on what we’ve learned during our first year and what we hope to accomplish in the second.