Is your voice being represented in the news? Odds are, if you’re a woman, probably not. Women make up 50.7 percent of the U.S. population, according to the most recent census, but when it comes to representation in the news they are present in much lower numbers.
The presence of women is what we’ve been attempting to calculate here at The Gender Report, particularly when it comes to the emergent platform of online news. Thus far, we’ve found that among lead articles on online news sites, both those associated with a newspaper and those that are online-only, women make up only 25.3 percent of sources. That percentage drops lower when we look at the most linked to and discussed articles of the web in the New Media Index in which women are only 20.2 percent of sources.
And, when it comes to producing online news, women haven’t reached parity there either. Our counts have found that once articles with no bylines and those with shared bylines between a man and a woman are taken out of the equation, women wrote 37.7 percent of the lead articles on the online news sites in our study. Of the top articles around the web, they bylined 31.3 percent. They are also absent among the principal staff members of online-only news sites, filling 28 percent of these positions, based on our look at the News Frontier Database.
These numbers, while serving to identify and bring attention to the fact that women’s voices are missing, present us with more questions than answers. That’s why we’d like to take our project a step further by starting a discussion on why this is the case and what can be done about it.
For the next several weeks, we’ll be posting discussion questions here on our website with the tag “Report Your Thoughts” as well as through Facebook and Twitter (using the hashtag #GRdiscuss). We hope you’ll get involved by sharing your thoughts and comments on questions like: Where are the women? Why does it matter? What’s the solution? And who’s working toward change?
Join us in this conversation. Let’s get the discussion started.