What are ‘Gender Checks’?

Starting today, the monitors here at The Gender Report will be conducting and sharing weekly Gender Checks for selected news websites across the United States.

So, what exactly is a “Gender Check”? It’s our version of a “check up” to quickly examine the gender representation in a lead article on a news website at a given time. These checks aren’t meant to be considered on their own, but we hope that overtime as we collect them we’ll be able to deduce some trends. Because of this, we urge our readers not to jump to conclusions based on an individual Gender Check.

In a Gender Check, we visit a website and select one of the current lead articles, based on prominence and position on the site’s home page. The information we gather includes the subject of the article, the gender of its author, and the gender, positions and order of its sources. We may also include notes or additional analysis as applicable.

We’ve picked two news websites with generally the same coverage area — one tied to an existing newspaper and another that’s online only* — from each of the four U.S. Census regions. We arrived at this number because eight sites to check regularly felt manageable to the two of us on top of our full-times jobs.

There are hundreds of other online news sites, so we hope our readers review any findings with the understanding that they are only snapshots of a few sites and further research would be needed to verify their validity across the board.

To get started, we’ve dedicated a day each week to one of the different geographic regions  — West, Midwest, South and Northeast — and the Gender Checks from its sites.

Stay tuned tonight for our first of many.

Update 1: We completed a full year of this project in January 2012. See the findings from the first year along with findings from our other studies here. Starting in February, we continued this project but began monitoring new sites in each geographic region. Read about this and other changes here.

Update 2: As of June 14, 2012, we opted to conclude the Gender Check study to make way for new projects. Review all past posts and findings from this study here.

*We realize that the Seattle P-I was once connected with a newspaper. However, now it’s online only and, for our purposes, we are considering it as such in our study. We’re interested to see if its transition has resulted in any differences between it and its peers that are still associated with an ongoing print product.

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