Moving forward: Plans for Year 2 of The Gender Report

Last week we celebrated one year since the founding of The Gender Report with a series of posts on what we discovered during our first 12 months (Review those posts here). Now it’s time to think about the future and what is to come in year two. Here’s what we have in store:

Gender Checks

Starting today (Monday), we’ll be reinstating our Gender Checks, but with several changes. The concept of this project will remain the same — weekly monitoring of lead news articles from eight U.S. new websites. However, we will be switching out the websites we monitor in each geographic region. For the South, we will be monitoring the Patch site for Buckhead, a neighborhood in Atlanta, as well as the print-based Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the West, we will take a look at the Los Angeles Times‘ website as well as the state-wide, investigative journalism site, California Watch. The Northeast will transition out of New York to focus on two Boston sites: the Boston Globe’s and Open Media Boston. As we look at the Midwest, we’ll move north to examine the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago News Cooperative.

In addition, we’ve added a few new monitoring areas to our actual checks. We’ll be including the subject area, based on the Global Media Monitoring Project‘s news stories classification system (Click for a PDF of the system). In our first year, we went back through and classified stories, but this year we will be including those classifications in our original checks. We’ll also be including the word count of articles in our checks. This is in response to comments by Kira Cochrane (and reinforced by Elana Zak) that byline counts are only one method for determining women’s level of representation and that a study of the number of words by female and male authors may be better. We’ve taken that to heart and will be measuring that throughout year two as well.

Week in Review

In addition to continuing our weekly look at top news stories from the week involving women (our Week in Review posts), we will also be following some of these stories in a more long-term fashion (look for the first trending topic in this week’s post). We will also be incorporating weekly polls to get more of your feedback involved in these stories, as well as a monthly quiz to test your knowledge of the top news stories from our site as well as other media sources. The Week in Review is not meant to take a particular angle on these stories or necessarily offer original reporting. Rather, these posts help aggregate multiple stories about the same topic to compare sourcing and potential biases.

Women in Journalism: Your Reading List

In addition to our Week in Reviews, we’re adding a new weekly post that will point readers in the direction of interesting articles from the past week related to women in journalism and media. Many of the stories and posts we’ll look to include here are already regularly shared on our Twitter feed. We’ll just be pulling them together in one place for those who may have missed them.


We have two projects planned to draw attention to those who work in the field and on some of the issues we discuss on this site.

In year two, we plan to continue our “In the Spotlight” series featuring organizations that are working on issues of gender representations in the news. We’ve published Q&As with Global Girl Media and the International Women’s Media Foundation in our first year, and plan to expand this to an every other month feature. Starting in March, we also plan to incorporate regular Q&A posts with female journalists about their experiences in the news industry. If you know of a person or organization we should feature, please email us at

Guest posts

One of our goals this year is to increase the number of voices present on the site by soliciting guest posts on topics of interest to our readers. Possible subject areas for guest posts include experiences of female journalists, the representation of women or gender in the media, the treatment of issues of gender in news coverage or current events, and those who are working for change in these areas. Check out our new “Write for Us” page for more information.

Other projects

While we will not be continuing our monitoring of the New Media Index this year, we do have a number of other projects in the works. These will be unveiled in the coming months.

We welcome your input and suggestions on topics or studies The Gender Report should take on. What would you like to see from us in year two? Share your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter using the hashtag #GRdiscuss.

With one year down, we realize we are just starting to get a handle on the depth of possibilities for our site. We hope year two will offer even more insights and findings to add to conversations around women in the media.


Week of the Year: A look at our Week in Review

When we started this project, one of our big goals was to bring more attention to not only the lack of women in the newsroom, but also to the lack of women in the news. One of the ways we did this was through our Week in Review, a post each weekend that rounded up coverage about one or two big trending stories that either featured female subjects or women’s issues both domestically and abroad. Here are some of our larger trends from our 34 posts in this category:

Top 5 Week in Review posts:

  1. Week in Review: Women Journalists in the News” (Dec. 3, 2011) – A look at prominent cases of harassment and violence against female journalists working abroad.
  2. Women breaking journalism’s glass ceiling: The ascent of Jill Abramson and others” (June 11, 2011) – Ms. Abramson took over as executive editor of the New York Times.
  3. Supreme Court decision in Wal-Mart case brings out discussions about sex discrimination, re-emergence of ERA” (June 25, 2011) – The Supreme Court ruled against the filing of a class action lawsuit against the retail giant.
  4. Concerns expressed over victim blaming in New York Times article on gang rape (Updated)” (March 12, 2011) – a story about a teenage girl in Texas found critics questioning the media’s coverage of the rape’s circumstances and the girl’s clothing and behavior.
  5. The Debate: Is News Coverage of Michele Bachmann sexist?” (Aug. 13, 2011) – The former candidate for the GOP primary faced many stories involving her gender and its relationship to her leadership style and capabilities.

Not surprisingly, the stories our readers explored the most had to do with women in the media itself, rather than media stories that happened to be about women. Other media coverage of the Arab Spring, the continued debates about Planned Parenthood, other healthcare issues, and the politics of gender issues internationally also found and held our attention.

As we move forward, we welcome your feedback about the focuses of these Week in Review posts. Check out daily stories on our News Feed on Twitter and on the right side of our home page. Find a story we missed? Tweet it @GRNewsFeed or post it to our Facebook page.

In the coming year, we also plan to add a weekly news poll to our site to get more feedback and your voices involved in the discussion. Look for our first poll this week.

‘Pandagate’: BBC taken to task for including panda in female ‘Faces of the Year’ list

‘Tis the season for year in review lists and one list has caused quite a stir this week. BBC has received flak for its “Faces of the year 2011 – the women list” after it included the Chinese panda Tian Tian, also known as Sweetie, as one of the 12 women who made headlines this year. A similar list of male faces of the year list contained only actual people.

BBC – “Faces of the year 2011 – the women”

Sweetie along with her male counterpart, Yang Guang or Sunshine, arrived at the Edinburgh Zoo on loan from China earlier this month. Sunshine was not included on a list on his own.

After the release of the list, “#pandagate” began trending Twitter. Critics, including those on Twitter, took the BBC to task for the decision as well as other choices on the list. Four women, many noted, were included because of their involvement in marriages including Pippa Middleton (sister of Kate Middleton who wed Prince William), Sarah Burton (who designed Kate Middleton’s dress), Charlene Wittstock and the Duchess of Alba. In addition, two of the women were on the list as alleged sexual assault victims — Nafissatou Diallo, who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Eman al-Obeidi, the woman from Libya who told reporters she’d been raped by Gaddafi forces.

Several reports made note that the panda’s inclusion was particularly of issue since several headline-making women were not on the list. According to the Guardian, Labour MP Stella Creasy mentioned several women who made waves this year such as new IMF head Christine Lagarde, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who became prime minister of Denmark, or the death of singer Amy Winehouse.

According to news sources, the BBC’s response was to note that this wasn’t the first time non-humans have been included as a “lighthearted” addition to the list – Peppa Pig was on the female list in 2010 and Benson the Carp was on the male list in 2009.

Many news reports made mention of an issue with a different list the BBC released earlier this year. BBC also came under fire for its Sports Personality of the Year awards’ 10-name short-list, which contained only male athletes.

Other “of the year” lists have also been critiqued, including the decision to pick Kate Middleton over Gabrielle Giffords as a runner-up to TIME’s Person of the Year and the naming of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s wife, Anne Sinclair, as France’s “Woman of the Year” based on an opinion poll.

Read more about this issue in this round-up of stories:

For year-end lists without pandas, check out these selections and share others in the comment section below:

CDC releases study on rape and domestic violence

A national study released this week revealed the prevalence of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence in the United States as well as the effects and health consequences of these experiences.

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey was done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was supported by the National Institute of Justice and the Department of Defense. The study itself involved a telephone survey in 2010 of more than 16,500 adults. The report is thought to help guide and target prevention efforts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the findings of a survey on rape and domestic violence this week. Click the image to view the report or executive summary.

Some of the report’s key numbers related to U.S. adults included:

  • Overall, more than one in three women and one in four men reported having experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.
  • One in five women and one in 71 men said they had been raped or experienced an attempted rape during their lifetime. More than half of female victims reported being raped by an intimate partner and another nearly 41 percent by an acquaintance. More than half of male victims also reported being raped by an acquaintance.
  • One in six women and one in 19 men have been stalked at some point in their lives.
  • One in four women and one in seven men reported having experienced “severe physical violence” by an intimate partner.

Additionally, findings focused on the impact of intimate partner violence, a look at these issues by race and ethnicity, violence in the last 12 months and health consequences for victims.

Many news outlets and online news sites picked up on the release of the survey results and reported on the findings. Stories focused on different aspects of the survey’s results. Stories also tended to either point out how “shocking,” “surprising” or “disturbing” these findings were or, in contrast, to point out that the study’s findings were not news. Those who stated the latter usually did credit the survey for confirming the prevalence of these issues and discrediting myths surrounding these topics, such as the idea that most rapes are perpetrated by strangers. These differences in emphasis and interpretation are most clearly demonstrated in the titles of the articles below:

Read an executive summary of the survey or the full report here.

This is the Gender Report’s Week in Review, a weekly post that highlights some of the major stories related to gender issues this week. Some of these stories may have already appeared in our News Feed or in the week’s Gender Checks. We’ll at times include a longer analysis of stories as well as bring attention to stories that may have slipped through the cracks of the week’s news cycle.

Manicures and Monarchy: A Week in Review

Our Week in Review wanted to bring some attention to a smattering of stories that may not have been above the fold or scroll bar but still dealt with important gender issues:

  • Michele Bachmann‘s gender issues came back into play last week as several news outlets, including the Washington Post, and Jezebel, commented on her manicure during one of the GOP primary debates. One blogger for the Huffington Post even went so far as to contrast her ” youthful and natural” hairstyle to an “oh-so-fake” nails, balanced out by her makeup. The blog also linked to a slideshow focused on her eyelash lengths in various appearances this summer. This isn’t the first time Bachmann’s appearance has been a news item in this primary season. See our previous coverage here.
  • This week a unanimous vote by 16 British Commonwealths gave women an equal right to the British throne under the Royal Marriage Act. The constitutional changes would mean a first-born girl has precedence over a younger brother. Under the old succession laws, dating back more than 300 years, the heir to the throne is the first-born son of the monarch. Only when there are no sons, as in the case of the Queen’s father George VI, does the crown pass to the eldest daughter, as explained by the BBC. The change will only apply to children born in the future, and not applied retroactively. The outdated rule found newfound attention this spring after the marriage of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. The law is only an issue for the 16 commonwealths that recognize the Queen as their head of state. See Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement of the change here.

This is the Gender Report’s Week in Review, a weekly post that highlights some of the major stories related to gender issues this week. Some of these stories may have already appeared in our News Feed or in the week’s Gender Checks. We’ll at times include a longer analysis of stories as well as bring attention to stories that may have slipped through the cracks of the week’s news cycle.