Women ‘still much less visible in media’

BBC News
The declining role of women in the media in North America

Women are much less visible in the media than men, the latest Global Media Monitoring Project study says.

Research by the organization found women only make up 24 percent of people heard about in the news, despite comprising half of the human population.

The project's Sarah Macharia says the situation is not much better than 20 years ago when the study first began.

She said it would take "at least three quarters of a century" to reach parity between the genders.

RELATED: Read highlights here from a debate about whether news is failing women.

Dr. Macharia added: "In 1995 women were 17 percent of the people interviewed and the subjects in the news, compared with 24 percent today."

The report claims digital media has a similar gender divide — with women featuring in a just a quarter of online news stories and tweets across the world.

Some areas of news coverage are better than others for gender balance. Women are more likely to feature in stories about science and health, for example, than they are about politics.

And big regional variations exist, too. Women are most visible in the news in North America and least visible in the Middle East.

The report commends Latin America for improving the proportion of female reporters and presenters. In 2000, only 28 percent of women were in these roles. Now, 15 years on, it stands at 43 percent.

Dr. Macharia thinks there are wider cultural reasons for this change. "It's the region in the world with the highest proportion of female heads of government and it has vibrant feminist movements," she said.

In North America, on the other hand, the proportion of women working in the media appears to be dropping. In 2005, 48 percent of reporters and presenters in the US and Canada were women. Today it is 38 percent.

Results from the latest study of women in media
Results from the latest study of women in mediaBBC

The report's authors say mass redundancies in the American newspaper industry have hit women particularly hard — leaving online news production dominated by men.

The project estimates that across the globe, women make up 37 percent of all reporters — exactly the same proportion as 10 years ago. That means there is still some way to go to make the world's newsrooms more equal.

Read more stories here about 100 women who are making a difference in the world. This story was cross-posted by our partners at the BBC.

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