Editor’s note: Our findings through our monitoring projects have served to identify and bring attention to the fact that women’s voices are missing, but have left us with more questions than answers. That’s why we’re taking our project a step further by starting a discussion on why this is the case and what can be done about it. This is part of a series of posts each week aiming to start a discussion on gender representations in online news. View past “Report Your Thoughts” discussions here.
Question 1: Where are the women (in bylines and in the newsroom)?
We’d like to start off our discussions with the most basic question about our findings: Why? Why are women present in such low numbers in our byline counts of lead articles as well as our looks inside newsrooms?
Since the late 1970s, women have made up the majority of college journalism majors, but that has yet to transfer over to the industry itself.
Here are some facts:
– The American Society of News Editors’ 2011 Newsroom Census found that women made up 36.9 percent of those working full time at daily U.S. newspapers. That percentage has fluctuated only slightly since the study began in 1999.
-The Global Media Monitoring Project (2010) found that overall in a study of media platforms from 100 countries that 37 percent of stories were reported by women. That percentage was 36 percent in the monitoring of online news sites from 16 countries.
-At the six-month mark, we’ve found that women wrote 37.7 percent of the lead articles on the online news sites in our Gender Check study if articles with no bylines and those with shared bylines between a man and a woman are taken out of the equation, but 34.7 percent when those are included. Among the top discussed and linked to articles around the web via the New Media Index, they bylined 31.3 percent of articles by authors or one gender or the author and only 26.3 percent overall in the first six months of 2011. In our look at the principal staff members of online-only news sites in the News Frontier Database, we discovered that women hold only 28 percent of these positions.
There have been many reasons and factors associated with this absence of women from newsrooms and among lead bylines, but we want to hear from you. What do you make of these findings. Why is this the case? If you are a woman with a background or training in journalism but are not currently working in the field, we want to know your story.
So, where are the women?
Update: We’ll also note that the International Women’s Media Foundation’s “The Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media” that came out in March uncovered similar trends in its look at nearly 60 countries and more than 500 companies (Read our past post on this study here). The study found that 73 percent of the top management jobs were occupied by men. Overall, women held 36 percent of reporter positions.
Update 2: Much of the discussion for this week’s question took place on Twitter using the hashtag #GRdiscuss. A few people and groups participated by sharing their thoughts on the question as well as comments and links on women’s representation in the media in general. Many more retweeted parts of the discussion.
The most retweeted was one of my own comments on the subject: