Gender check: 1/19/11 – Northeast

*Gender Checks are quick examinations of gender representation in individual news articles for the purpose of discovering trends over time. Click here to read more.

Website: The New York Times

On the New York Times, one of the lead articles featured on the home page as of 3:45 p.m. eastern time on January 19 was titled “Obama Pushes Hu on Rights but Stresses Ties to China.” Its subject was the president of China’s current visit to the White House to discuss trade and other diplomatic topics.

Here is its gender breakdown:

Authors: both female and male (dual byline)

Human sources  (listed in order mentioned):

1. Male – president Obama from a press conference

2. Male – president Hu from a press conference

3. Female – secretary of state Hillary Clinton, quoted from her appearance on a morning talk show


Article is a basis news story covering a political presentation from the White House. Outside sources are not directly quoted, so gender breakdown depends entirely on the gender representation in leadership political positions.

Website: ProPublica

On ProPublica, one of the lead articles featured on the home page as of 4 p.m. eastern on Jan. 19, was titled “Life Tenure for Federal Judges Raises Issues of Senility, Dementia.”  Its subject was the possible dangers of aging judges being allowed to continue in their positions. It was co-published with Slate.

Here is its gender breakdown:

Author: Male (freelance). A male intern also is credited with contributing to the report.

Human sources  (listed in order mentioned):

1. Male – federal judge

2. unknown- unnamed lawyer who works for the above mentioned judge

3. Male – defense attorney

4. Male – Alexander Hamilton’s comments during the creation of the Constitution

5. Male – scholar at Cambridge University

6. Male –  judge on 6th circuit Court of Appeals

7. Male – U.S. district judge

8. Male – U.S. district judge

9. Male – chief of 7th circuit Court of Appeals

10. Male – assistant federal defender

11. Male – judge on 10th circuit

12. Male – federal judge

13. Male – lawyer

14. Male – federal judge

15. Female – woman’s comment taken from jury selection comments in previous source’s courtroom.

16. Male – consultant for a hot line set up for court system

17. Female – retired federal judge on 4th Circuit


The number of sources used in the story are impressive, but the balance of male vs. female judges interviewed is more than lopsided. According to the Alliance for Justice, as of June 2010, women hold about 30 percent of federal judicial seats. However, only one female judge contributed to this story, and her position in the story is worth noting. In a fairly lengthy piece about several judges’ experiences as they got older, the female source is the only judge who openly discusses her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and her decision to retire because of the illness. While other male sources discuss routine medical check-ups and mental evaluations, she is the only judge mentioned who leaves the bench. In fact, the author ends the story by saying this judge “may be more the exception than the rule.”


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