Women in journalism: Reading list for 2/23/2014

The Gender Report provides a weekly round-up of links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. The links below are to noteworthy articles on topics related to women in journalism and the media during the past week. Articles included in this feature do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gender Report or its writers. View past week’s round-ups here.

Reading List*

Women’s Media Center Report Finds Women Still Underrepresented, Misrepresented in U.S. Media (WMC press release) Find links to other articles about the report in our related post here: Studying women’s representation in digital media: The challenges and limitations

Finding the Courage to Cover Sexual Violence (Committee to Protect Journalists)

Film, TV industry’s diversity doesn’t look like America’s, report says (LA Times) On the “Hollywood Diversity Report”

Sahar Speaks: Reporting by Afghan women (John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships)

On Campaign Trail, Missteps on Gender (by Margaret Sullivan, New York Times public editor)

Facebook Just Created 50 New Gender Options For Users to Choose From (PolicyMic)

Men In Silicon Valley With Graduate Degrees Make 73 Percent More Than Female Peers (Think Progress)

The Year I Didn’t Retweet Men: Being mindful about whose voices I amplify (Medium)

LeanIn.org and Getty Aim to Change Women’s Portrayal in Stock Photos (New York Times)

For Online Equity We Need Our Net Neutrality Back (Women’s eNews)

Nina Totenberg: What It Was Like To Be the Only Woman In the Newsroom (Medium)

Washington Post names Alison Coglianese new reader representative (Poynter)

Slate Writer Amanda Hess Wins Sidney Award for Examining Online Sexism (10,000 Words)

Meredith Vieira to Become First Woman to Host Olympics Primetime Show Solo (Variety)

*Note: Due to the author’s travel, this week’s list contains noteworthy links from the past two weeks. No Reading List was posted for the week of 2/16/2013.

We encourage readers to submit suggestions of articles to include in future editions of this feature by sending an email to genderreport[at]gmail.com. For links to articles like these throughout the week, follow @GenderReport on Twitter.


Women in journalism: Reading list for 6/9/2013

The Gender Report provides a weekly round-up of links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. The links below are to noteworthy articles on topics related to women in journalism and the media during the past week. Articles included in this feature do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gender Report or its writers. View past week’s round-ups here.


Reading List

New York Times Teases Female Politicians For Relying On ‘Purse Boys’ (Think Progress)

-The Real Problem With Writing About a Senator’s Purse (XX Factor)

Is It Media Hype Or Would Electing The First Woman Mayor Of Paris Mean Something For France? (Forbes Woman)

Silicon Valley’s Awful Race and Gender Problem in 3 Mind-Blowing Charts (Mother Jones)

Sunday Morning TV: Same Time, Same Place, Same Guests (Media Report to Women, The Blog)

Web Magazine for Women, by Women (Women in the World)

Journalist Riham Said gives Muslim cleric Yousuf Badri huge serve on national TV (News.com.au)

Answering Harvard’s question about my personal life, 52 years later (Washington Post) – Phyllis Richman, a Washington Post restaurant critic from 1976 to 2000

Samantha Power’s history in journalism (Politico)

Sarah Stillman Wins Top Award at the 2013 MOLLY National Journalism Prize Dinner (Texas Observer)

Politico hires Foreign Policy’s Susan Glasser (Washington Post)

New York Times hires two reporters from the Financial Times (JimRomenesko.com) – One is London-based Alexandra Stevenson

Wendy Ruderman leaves NYT, returns to Philly Daily News (Poynter)

How Rebecca Parker, Editor, Does It (Motherlode)

Rachel Sklar Tries to Become a Social Media Entrepreneur (New York Times)

We encourage readers to submit suggestions of articles to include in future editions of this feature by sending an email to genderreport[at]gmail.com. For links to articles like these throughout the week, follow @GenderReport on Twitter.

Presidential debates: First female moderator in 20 years announced

For the first time in 20 years, a woman will moderate a presidential debate.

It was confirmed Monday that CNN’s Candy Crowley will moderate the second of three presidential debates this fall. A woman, Martha Raddatz of ABC, will also moderate the vice-presidential debate.

Candy Crowley
(Click on the photo to learn more)

The first and last time a woman moderated a presidential debate was former ABC News anchor Carole Simpson in 1992. A woman has hosted vice-presidential debates in that time — PBS’s Gwen Ifill in 2004 and 2008.

The Commission on Presidential Debates fell under scrutiny for this lack of female moderators when three teens, Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis, campaigned to end the 20 year drought via Change.org petitions (see here and here) that collectively garnered more than 180,000 signatures. They had tried to deliver their petition to the CPD, but had been turned away. However, their effort gained support from a number of high profile politicians, such as U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Simpson herself also spoke out on the issue in an op-ed for the Boston Globe.

Following the release of the names of this year’s moderators, the girls announced victory on their main petition’s website.

“Through this campaign, millions of Americans learned that two decades passed without a woman moderating a U.S. presidential debate,” Axelrod said in the statement. “We are so proud to have helped educate Americans on this issue, and are extremely happy that women and girls watching the debates this year will see a potential role model up on the stage moderating.”

The announcement definitely demonstrated a step in the right direction.Several write-ups and Twitter comments on the moderator selections were quick to note gender parity with two women among this year’s four moderators. In addition to Crowley and Raddatz, Jim Lehrer of PBS News Hour (who has been a frequent moderator) and Bob Schieffer of CBS News will each moderate a presidential debate.

While this would seem to be an even split, it may not be actual parity. As The Caucus blog noted, “the announcement still fell short of some expectations.” According to the debate format descriptions, both Lehrer and Schieffer will moderate the two traditional debates at the highest level. In these debates, the moderator selects the topics and questions. In contrast, Crowley will host the only town-hall style debate in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates and the moderator will “facilitate discussion.” And, as previously noted, Raddatz is hosting the vice-presidential debate. In other words, the two debates between the highest level candidates where the moderator has the most influence and say will still be moderated by men.

And while gender diversity may be accounted for in this year’s line up, Eric Deggans has noted that the debates will have no non-white moderators for the first time since 1996.

Read more about the moderator announcement in the write-ups below:

UPDATED: “Girl Games” still grappled with gendered language, commentary

As the 2012 Olympic Games wind down in London this weekend, the Gender Report compiled coverage from both the broadcast coverage of the Games, as well as the plentiful commentary and feature reporting from print and online media sources.

Photo taken from http://www.bostonglobe.com

Female athletes for the first time represented every participating country, and the U.S. team brought a female-majority team to London (as did Russia and China).

Females served as both the U.S. flag bearer and delegation chief, and female athletes took home almost double the gold medals for the United States than their male teammates. The Boston Globe went as far as to deem London as the “Girl Games,” and Time magazine named London the “Year of the Woman.”NBC’s features during the Closing Ceremonies did include a feature on women’s participation, and medal count dominance, in London. Accomplishments highlighted included women’s basketball, water polo, rowing, (also highlighted as a team of “strong personalities”), and soccer, which was credited for doing more for attention to women’s sports than any other event. (The U.S. men did not qualify in soccer).

But with plentiful gains towards gender equity in these games, the Gender Report also found plentiful bias in both spoken and written commentary throughout the past weeks.


In both live and prime time coverage, NBC offered a glimpse at the language biases still present in sports coverage. For example, in his interview with beach volleyball gold medalists Kerry Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, Bob Costas reminded viewers to watch the girls’ medal ceremony, despite both women being in their 30s. Similar use of “girl” to refer to female athletes over the age of 18 could be found in swimming and basketball commentary. Similarly, commentators giving background or “color” information on athletes tended to focus on the personalities of female athletes but the training or athleticism of male athletes, even in the same sports. For example, a feature piece for the Washington Post focused on swimmer Missy Franklin’s accomplishments despite her “bubbles and dimples” and that a “mean girl” takes possession of her in the pool. The Atlantic Wire noted “It is truly hard to imagine Michael Phelps’ or Ryan Lochte’s desire for victory being described in this manner. ” Other feature coverage highlighted female swimmers’ nail polish choices or other athletes’ hairstyles, while male coverage, largely lacked these kinds of pieces.


Throughout the games, companies from Proctor and Gamble to Kellog’s to Gillette featured athletes endorsing their products. An upcoming article in the Journal of Brand Strategy focused on the “cycle of failure” facing female athletes because they are less featured in the years between Olympics, and when they are featured, appear in oversexualized advertisements.

A lack of femininity has also been criticized as a reason some female athletes, in sports like boxing and weightlifting, don’t receive as many endorsements.

Gymnastics Coverage

One particular sport highlighted the gender biases prevalent throughout these Olympics. While the U.S. Women came into London as gold-medal favorites in both the team and all around competitions, many media, and in particular NBC, put extensive emphasis on the femininity, rather than the athleticism, of this team. At one point in the team final, a commentator noted the beads of sweat on one athlete, saying viewership of the sport may be declining as the women show “less grace” in the sport. A Washington Post article noticed “grimaces have outnumbered smiles” in the women’s competition. Coverage of NBC commentators zoomed in on the tears of Jordyn Wieber and the “divas” of the Russian team. But as Slate columnist J. Bryan Lowder notes, “That “these girls are very emotional,” as NBC’s Tim Daggett put it, should be neither here nor there. After all, when Michael Phelps and his teammates express diva-like torrents of emotion poolside, their whooping and grimacing—if it’s noticed at all—is deemed nothing more than uncomplicated masculine enthusiasm.”

All-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas faced gendered, and at times racialized, coverage. Bob Costas often made comments about her “winning smile” and “bubbly” personality, but Douglas’ physical appearance also drew particular interest. As the first African-American to win the all-around title, Douglas became a social media target for the way she styled her hair. After congratulating her accomplishment, one fan told the Daily Beast “I just hate the way her hair looks with all those pins and gel. I wish someone could have helped her make it look better since she’s being seen all over the world. She representing for black women everywhere.” Tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams have faced similar criticism of their hair styles in the past. NPR, Ms. Magazine , the LA Times and Jezebel also noted the commotion around Douglas’ hairstyles. However, Ebony magazine gave more blame to media stereotypes of black women criticizing one another than social media posts.

In its summary of the gender-focused coverage, The American Prospect summarized the games by crediting the athletes themselves:  “Even if the media wanted to maintain an image of the demure, petite female Olympian, the women themselves clearly won’t be having it. For no other reason than pure competition, women from all sorts of backgrounds have been redefining what’s acceptable. “

Read more about gender issues in Olympics coverage:

By the numbers: Women visibly absent from contraception stories

Since the issue began blowing up, The Gender Report has kept track of a small slice of the news stories about the birth control ruling from the Obama administration. We separated our data from stories about the original ruling (starting Jan. 20), as well as stories after his announced compromise with Catholic leaders (after Feb. 10). We looked at news stories on the issue from the New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, POLITICO, and USA Today. We did our best to avoid stories that came from other services (such as wires) on these sites or stories posted to the sites’ blogs or special feature services. Keep in mind that this is just a small sample of stories coming from dominant news sources. Here are our results of women in these stories:

Before the compromise: 37 stories, published Jan 20 – Feb. 10

  • Bylines: 48.4 percent women (15 female bylines, 16 male bylines); 6 shared bylines between men and women
  • Sources: 30.9 percent women directly quoted (60 of 134 sources), 29.1 percent of all persons named or mentioned (88 of 302 mentions)
  • Author gender and sources: Women were 38.1 percent of sources in articles by female authors; they were 29.7 percent of sources in articles by males.

After the compromise: 16 stories, published Feb. 11 – Feb. 17

  • Bylines: 38.5 percent women (5 female bylines, 8 male bylines); 3 shared bylines between men and women
  • Sources: 24.7 percent (14 of 43 sources), 24.2 percent of mentioned sources (22 of 91 mentions)
  • Author gender and sources: Women were 26.7 percent of sources in articles by female authors; they were 22.2 percent of sources in articles by males.

Overall: 53 stories, published Jan 20 – Feb. 10

  • Bylines: 45.5 percent women (20 female bylines, 24 male bylines); 9 shared bylines between men and women
  • Sources: 29.5 percent (74 of 251 sources), 28 percent of mentioned sources (110 of 393 mentions)
  • Author gender and sources: Women were 35.9 percent of sources in articles by female authors; they were 28 percent of sources in articles by males.
  • News sites: The New York Times had the highest percentage of female sources with 46.8 percent (33 male vs. 29 female sources in 12 articles). Politico had the lowest percentage at 17.6 percent (56 male vs. 12 female in 17 articles).

Other groups have also found similar trends in data. ThinkProgress, a division of the Center for American Progress, found that out of a total of 146 guests who discussed contraception on cable news shows, 91 men were invited compared to 55 women as commentators. In other words, males comprised 62 percent of the total guests who commented on contraception. (The study looked at shows on Fox, MSNBC, and CNN.) In a more balanced finding, in a self-conducted survey, NPR discovered that of those interviewed and quoted between January 13 and February 13, 26 were women, ranging from Catholic students to lawyers to professors. This compares to 18 men who were quoted by name.

This image from Think Progress of a witness panel of all men testifying in the Congressional hearing on contraception Thursday went viral. (Photo via @ThinkProgress)

It’s important to take a closer look at some of the potential causes, and subsequent pitfalls, behind these numbers. First, much of the debate has involved leaders of the Catholic Church; these voices are, by church rule, male. Some groups interviewed included female leaders in the Catholic church, but even when Methodist or Lutheran pastors were included in the sources, these were male pastors or church leaders. The second group taking the spotlight in much of the coverage, especially in stories from the past week, looked at the responses of the candidates for the republican presidential nomination. Again, all these candidates are male. The third group is Congress, which we’ve stated before is currently only 17 percent female; if you’re interviewing a senator or representative, you’re most likely going to end up with a male voice due to basic probability.

However, despite these caveats, we still are asking the question: Where are the women? While the percentage of women represented in birth control coverage is slightly higher than the representation of women in the news overall (see our Findings & Statistics section for details), the lack of women’s voices in these particular stories is especially glaring considering it is an issue related to women’s health.

The individuals quoted in these stories (with the exception of a few features such as those about experiences with and opinions about birth control at Catholic campuses by the New York Times and Los Angeles Times) were often the same people repeatedly across media outlets. For women, Sister Jane Marie Klein (chairwoman of the board of a system of 13 Catholic hospitals) was most often quoted, followed by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebeliu and then Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Both Klein and Richards were named among the three people (the other being Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan) that President Obama is said to have called to alert to the change in the policy.

In our research, only a small handful of non-expert female sources were quoted in the 53 stories. This included the woman whose testimony was canceled in this week’s congressional hearings on the ruling. In any policy story, we would expect to see the perspective of not just the policy makers, but the people whom the policy impacts the most: users of birth control. In the case of contraception, this almost exclusively means women, since male forms of contraception such as condoms do not require a prescription and thus are not a main focus of insurance policy.

A photo (above) from the Congressional hearing quickly went viral this week, as it highlighted the all-male panel in Thursday’s debates. NPR’s ombudsman also pointed out this lack of female representation, writing: “Airing diverse voices and views that reflect the country is critical.” We will continue to follow this story, and provide updated statistics and findings as the debate continues.

Looking for more opinion? Check out these stories and opinion posts on the contraception debates: