Third month finds dip in percentage of female authors

Women still made up less than 30 percent of sources in our third month of Gender Checks, while the number of female authors in our sample also dipped below 30 percent this month.

Since this marked month three, we’re working on a quarter roundup of our findings, but in the meantime we’ve tallied up our results from the month to share. Here’s what we found:

Third Month: March 22 – April 15, 2011

We reviewed 28 articles, two in each Gender Check. We aimed for each geographical region to have four Gender Checks, but in this time period we missed one week for the South and one for the Midwest.

For each Gender Check, we looked at two websites — one associated with a newspaper and one that was online-only. We recorded information on the gender of the author and the breakdown of the genders of the human sources referenced in the articles among other details. (For more on what Gender Checks are, read our introductory post here.)


The articles contained 91 male sources and 28 female sources, which put women at about 23.5 percent of the human sources referenced in these articles. This does not include sources whose gender was not identifiable.

Here’s how it broke down by geographic region:

  • West: 23 males, 10 female (Women at 30.3 percent)
  • Northeast: 37 males, 10 females (Women at 21.3 percent)
  • Midwest: 13 males, 4 females (Women at 23.5 percent)
  • South: 18 male, 4 female (Women at 18 percent)

And, here’s the breakdown by news sites associated with a traditional newspaper and those that are not.

  • Newspaper website: 50 males, 8 females (Women at 13.8 percent)
  • Online-only:  41 males, 20 females (Women at 32.8 percent)


Overall, seven articles were written by an individual woman and 19 by one or more man, which meant women were 26.9 percent of authors this month. In addition, two articles had a shared byline with a man (or two) and a woman.

Here’s a look by geographic region:

  • West: No stories by an individual woman, 7 by a man, 1 by two men and a woman
  • Northeast: 1 by an individual woman, 2 by an individual man, 4 by two men, 1 by a man and a woman
  • Midwest: 3 by a woman, 3 by men
  • South: 3 by a woman, 3 by men

And, here’s the look by news website association:

  • Newspaper website: 3 by a woman, 7 by a man, 2 by two men, 2 by a man (or two) and a woman
  • Online-only: 4 by a woman, 8 by a man, 2 by two men

Here’s our monthly reminder: These results reflect a limited amount of data from our simple Gender Checks. We hope you understand the limitations of this data, however telling. We’ve only sampled a few articles from eight news sites. Further research is needed to verify any validity across the board.

Check back later this week for our first quarter averages and observations from our Gender Checks as a whole.

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