Editor’s note: In January 2011, we set out to examine the ways in which women are represented in online news both as sources and as authors. To mark our first year here at The Gender Report, we’re revealing our findings from our year-long studies as well as other statistics and commentaries in a series of posts. View other coverage of our one-year anniversary here.
What article subjects have the lowest representation of female sources and authors? Well, that’s what we’ve looked at in the data from our year-long Gender Check monitoring study.
Yesterday, we released findings in two parts, one on female sources and another on female authors, from this project. We’ve decided to look at our data in some additional ways, including by article subject, to see if there are any differences in the representation of women as sources and authors. We first explored this after the six-month mark in our study and again after nine months. Now after completing 12 months of the project, we’ve examined each of the 354 articles we gender checked by topic to see if the differences we uncovered at earlier points in the study still hold. (For the Gender Check study, we monitored the lead news articles from eight U.S. online news websites. For details, click here.)
To determine article subject, we’ve made use (to the best of our ability) of the Global Media Monitoring Project‘s news stories classification system (Click for a PDF of the system) to categorize stories. This system divides articles into eight categories with a numbering system for further breakdowns within each category. None of our articles have fallen under the categories of “Other” and ‘The Girl-Child” yet, so we’re sticking with the six remaining categories.
After a year of study, here’s how the articles broke down by subject.
Articles by subject
The largest number of our articles have still fallen under “Crime and Violence” (106 out of 354).The category with the fewest articles was “Celebrity, Arts, Media and Sports” with 21 articles. Below, we’ve broken down each larger category by the number of articles in our sample, the subjects within that category associated with the highest number of articles, and the news site or sites that were the sources for the largest number of articles in that category.
- Politics and Government: 72 articles; Key subjects: “Other domestic politics, government” (43 articles); Main source: St. Louis Beacon (19 articles)
- Economy: 73 articles; Key subjects: “Economic policies, strategies” (17 articles); Main source: Seattle Times (15 articles) and St. Louis Beacon (13 articles)
- Science and Health: 33 articles; Key subjects: “Medicine, health, hygiene, safety” (10 articles); Main source: ProPublica (10 articles)
- Social and Legal: 49 articles; Key subjects: “Education, childcare, nursery, university, literacy” and “Legal system, judiciary, legislation apart from family” (both with 19 articles); Main source: Seattle Times (11 articles)
- Crime and Violence: 106 articles; Key subjects: “Violent crime, murder, abduction, assault” (36 articles) and “Non-violent crime, bribery, theft, drugs, corruption” (30 articles); Main sources: Seattle P-I (33 articles) and Stltoday.com (24 articles)
- Celebrity, Arts, Media and Sports: 21 articles; Key subjects: “Arts, entertainment, leisure, cinema, books, dance” (10 articles); Main sources: Patch (Seminole Heights) (7 articles)
As a note to our readers, we acknowledge that the sample of articles in some categories is still small, so please keep in mind that limitation when viewing our data.
Here’s how the gender representations worked out within those categories:
“Politics and Government” articles dropped to the bottom with the lowest percentage of female sources at 19.9 percent. “Social and Legal” articles had the highest percentage of female sources with 31.4 percent, passing “Science and Health” articles, which had maintained the highest percentage at both the six and nine month marks. As demonstrated in our overall findings, the total sample shows women as 26 percent of sources.
Here’s how it separated out by classification:
- Politics and Government: 254 males, 63 females (Women as 19.9 percent)
- Economy: 202 males, 60 females (Women as 22.9 percent)
- Science and Health: 76 males, 31 females (Women as 29 percent)
- Social and Legal: 129 males, 59 females (Women as 31.4 percent)
- Crime and Violence: 262 males, 116 females (Women as 30.7 percent)
- Celebrity, Arts, Media and Sports: 55 males, 14 females (Women as 20.3 percent)
“Science and Health” articles have continued to hold the lowest percentage of female authors at 18.2 percent overall. “Economy” articles have also still demonstrated highest percentage of female authors at 39.7 percent. Overall, women are 32.2 percent of authors.
Here’s the breakdown by classification:
- Politics and Government: 26 stories by women, 38 by men, 6 shared bylines between a man and a woman, 2 other/unidentified (Women as 36.1 percent)
- Economy: 29 by women, 40 by men, 4 shared (Women as 39.7 percent)
- Science and Health: 6 by women, 24 by men, 2 shared, 1 other (Women as 18.2 percent)
- Social and Legal: 17 by women, 30 by men, 2 shared (Women as 34.7 percent)
- Crime and Violence: 31 by women, 62 by men, 10 shared, 3 other (Women as 29.2 percent)
- Celebrity, Arts, Media and Sports: 5 by women, 15 by men, 1 shared (Women as 23.8 percent)
Review our findings
Below you can find links to the breakdown of the articles in our Gender Check study at previous points in the year.
- Gender Check breakdown: A look at female authors, sources by article subject
- Nine months: Science and health articles showing high female sources, low female bylines
For other data on gender representations in online news and to compare these findings to others’, check out our “Findings and Statistics” category and our “Useful Resources” page.
We’re interested in what you make of the findings. Share your thoughts in the comment section below or using the #GRdiscuss hashtag on Twitter.