Gender and media: By the numbers

To give a starting point for readers of this site to understand what is known about gender representation in online and mainstream or traditional media, here’s snapshot of some of the numbers.

These figures come from the “Who Makes the News? Global Media Monitoring Project 2010.” This was the first time the study, which is released every five years, included Internet news as a pilot. The chosen day for the study was Nov. 10, 2009, and the study as a whole with all media platforms included media from 100 countries. Sixteen countries were included in the pilot study for online news based on their level of Internet access. The United States was not one of them, though some international news sites were.

Here are some of the numbers:

News subjects:
-24 percent of the people heard or read on traditional platforms like newspapers, television and radio were female in the sample.
-23 percent of the news subjects on the 84 websites monitored were women.

Story focus:
-13 percent of the news items in traditional media focus specifically on women.
-11 percent of the online news stories were centered around women.

-41 percent of stories reported on traditional platforms were by female reporters in the same countries as the Internet pilot. Overall, 37 percent of stories in the whole sample were reported by women.
-36 percent of the news stories in the online samples were reported by women.

-46 percent of the stories monitored in traditional media reinforced gender stereotypes, while only 6 percent challenged these stereotypes.
-42 percent of the online news stories were found to reinforce gender stereotypes and only 4 percent challenged them.

These statistics, and more detailed ones on each topics area offered in the report, seem to imply that online news sites follow the same vein as traditional news platforms when it comes to gender. However, it’s noted in the study’s executive summary that “the differences, some of which are statistically significant, point to a conclusion that Internet news is a format in which gender biases become not only more visible but even more concentrated than in the traditional news media.”

Those differences and their extent are some of the topics we hope to delve into further here at The Gender Report — specifically how they reveal themselves in U.S. online media in both news sites with roots in traditional media and those that are online only. Through our Gender Checks, we’ll be recording information similar to what was culled for the GMMP’s study on Internet news stories. We’ll see if our findings are similar.

Read the full report from the “Global Media Monitoring Project 2010” at