Gender Checks show higher count of female bylines in fourth month, fewer female sources in fifth

Though the fact that we missed some Gender Checks in the fourth and fifth months of this project may have slightly altered our results, overall between the two months women represented 25.7 percent of sources and 44.8 percent of bylines in the articles we monitored.

The percent of female authors in particular is significantly higher than what we found in our first three months of Gender Checks. During that time, women were 31 percent of authors. This difference is largely attributed to our fourth month (see findings below) in which for the first time in this study the number of female authors outnumbered the amount of males. That result may have been due to the fact that we missed several Gender Checks from the Northeast that month, and, of our four regions, it tends (at least as an average of our first three months) to return the lowest percentage of female bylines.

For each Gender Check, we looked at two websites from that region — one associated with a newspaper and one that was online-only. In doing so, we pulled the top articles on their websites at the time of the check and gathered 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.)

Here’s more detail on our findings of both sourcing and authorship from the two months broken down by geographic region and news site association:

Fourth Month: April 19 – May 20, 2011

We reviewed 32 articles, two in each Gender Check. This month we had five Gender Checks from the Midwest and South, four from the West and only two from the Northeast.

Sourcing

The articles contained 71 male sources and 31 female sources, which put women at about 30.4 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: 13 males, 6 female (Women at 31.6 percent)
  • Northeast: 15 males, 6 females (Women at 28.6 percent)
  • Midwest: 20 males, 13 females (Women at 39.4 percent)
  • South: 23 male, 6 female (Women at 20.7 percent)

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

  • Newspaper website: 41 males, 15 females (Women at 26.8 percent)
  • Online-only:  30 males, 16 females (Women at 34.8 percent)

Authorship

Overall, 16 articles were written by an individual woman and 12 by one or more man, which meant for the first time in this study there were more female than male authors. All geographic areas were fairly evenly split. As stated earlier in this post, this may not have been the case if we had completed an equal number of Gender Checks in the Northeast this month, as it has shown to have the lowest percentage of female bylines thus far in our study. In addition, four articles had a shared byline with a man and a woman.

Here’s a look by geographic region:

  • West: 5 by an individual woman, 3 by an individual man
  • Northeast: 2 by a woman, 2 by a man
  • Midwest: 4 by a woman, 2 by a man, 4 by a man and a woman
  • South: 5 by a woman, 5 by a man

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

  • Newspaper website: 9 by a woman, 5 by a man, 2 by a man and a woman
  • Online-only: 7 by a woman, 7 by a man, 2 by a man and a woman

Fifth Month: May 24 – June 24, 2011

We reviewed 30 articles, two in each Gender Check. This month that included five Gender Checks from the West and Midwest, four in the Northeast and only one in the South. Keep in mind that the lack of Gender Checks from the South may have changed slightly our results overall. In the first quarter, the South had slightly higher percentages of women authors and sources than the other geographic regions.

Sourcing

The articles contained 62 male sources and 15 female sources, which put women at about 19.5 percent of the human sources referenced in these articles. This does not include sources whose gender was not identifiable (particularly unnamed sources with no pronoun modifiers, which we saw more often this month).

The Northeast and Midwest performed particularly poorly for women this month. Here’s how it broke down by geographic region:

  • West: 18 males, 7 female (Women at 28 percent)
  • Northeast: 19 males, 2 females (Women at 9.5 percent)
  • Midwest: 20 males, 3 females (Women at 13 percent)
  • South: 5 male, 3 female (Women at 37.5 percent)

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

  • Newspaper website: 37 males, 11 females (Women at 22.9 percent)
  • Online-only:  25 males, 4 females (Women at 13.9 percent)

Authorship

Overall, 10 articles were written by an individual woman and 20 by one or more man, which meant women were 33.3 percent of authors this month. There were no shared bylines.

Here’s a look by geographic region:

  • West: 2 stories by an individual woman, 8 by an individual man
  • Northeast: 4 by a woman, 4 by a man
  • Midwest: 3 by a woman, 7 by a man
  • South: 1 by a woman, 1 by a man

For authorship, the number of female bylines newspaper sites and online-only sites matched this month. Here’s the look of what that meant in numbers:

  • Newspaper website: 5 by a woman, 10 by a man
  • Online-only: 5 by a woman, 10 by a man

A reminder for our readers: These results reflect a limited amount of data from our simple Gender Checks. We hope you recognize the limitations of this data, since we’ve only sampled a few articles from eight news sites (and in some cases, as in these past two months, not as consistently as we would have liked). Further research and time is needed to verify any validity across the board.

To look at past month breakdowns and other data on gender representations in online news, check out our “Findings and Statistics” category.

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