Remember when Congress held a hearing on birth control and forgot to invite women to share their opinions? Well, it turns out that the media is also guilty of leaving women out of discussions about women. As the Daily Beast reports, an in depth statistical analysis of major news sources shows that males are quoted up to four times as often as females on stories that pertain to women.
The 4th Estate, a media research group based in Vermont, kept tabs on who was quoted in 35 of the most popular national print publications for the past six months. “In front page articles about the 2012 election that mention abortion or birth control, men are 4 to 7 times more likely to be cited than woman,” says the 4th Estate’s report. “This gender gap undermines the media’s credibility.”
More specifically, in articles about Planned Parenthood, two out of every three quotes were attributed to men. When it came to stories about birth control, men were quoted three out of every four times. And perhaps most tellingly, women only received 12% of the quotes in print pieces about abortion.
Although women’s rights articles included the largest percentage of quotes from females, the figure still showed a great disparity: women were quoted only 31% of the time. It would seem that women would have more to say about their own rights.
Unsurprisingly, the male news domination is not restricted just to female issues. In articles about less gendered topics like foreign policy and the economy, men still had a clear numerical advantage in regards to quotes. For example, in stories about the upcoming presidential election, men are quoted 65% of the time in top news publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and an even higher 76% in USA Today.
TV news programs are just as bad about including women in the conversation. Shows like CBS’s “Face the Nation” and CNN’s “State of the Union” quote women only 22% and 12% of the time, respectively.
The study does not delve into how many of the quotes were spoken by politicians. Since men are overrepresented in electoral politics, this fact may, in part, be responsible for the uneven media coverage. Still, that does not change the fact that men are speaking on behalf of women.
While this information on discriminatory news may not come as a total shock, it is nice to have some concrete statistics to back up a trend many have noticed anecdotally. Says Joy Bacon, co-founder of The Gender Report, “Sometimes it takes a quantifiable analysis to be able to show that the voices represented are still not balanced, and this is especially frustrating when stories are focused on women’s health and women’s rights topics.”
Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon