Media Rarely Quotes Women in Stories About Women, Study Shows

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.”

Related Stories:

Congress Calls Birth Control Hearing for Men

House Bans Funding for Planned Parenthood

Don’t Women Have Opinions?

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon


RobynRobyn Brice
Robyn Vorsa5 years ago

I grew up in a time where women were treated with contempt by the media. Women were silly shallows creatures more concerned with their appearance than anything important, like contraception, fairer pay etc. Looks like much has not changed in the fifty years I have been on this Earth. Women are still sidelined as being unimportant and men are still filling the air with their testosterone fueled crap.

Joshua Z.
Joshua Z5 years ago

Yes, well, conservatives are under-represented in the news also. As seen below, although 33% of the general public identify as Conservative, only 7% of journalists at the national level and 12% at the local level identify as such. And while only 20% of the general public identifies as Liberal, 34% of the national press and 23% of the local press identify as liberal.

Therefore, it can be seen from the last study by the Pew Research Center of this issue (they haven't asked the question since) that not only have Conservatives been kept out of the press, but out of the national press in particular, and not promoted beyond the local level. This is part of a growing body of research compiled by the Media Research Center showing the bias occurring.

My point is, the media is biased on multiple points. Bernie Goldberg in his famous book, 'Bias', pointed out that inside CBS and other agencies, even though they pretend sympathy for the plight of racial discrimination, they only show those of minorities with light skin and good looks for their ratings. News agencies also observe bias towards women but not men in news stories, apparently part of what has become somewhat hypocritical political correctness.

Anyway, this is just one factor in the media's hypocritical bias.

Prentise W.
pre,tpse w5 years ago

This is just the kind of androcentric power that is described in "The Feminist Critique of Language," edited by Deborah Cameron.

Shan D.
Shan D5 years ago

I once posted my opinion of women's rights in Saudi Arabia - and the male members of the forum told me to mind my own business! Considering that I was the ONLY woman to post the female point of view, I guess the guys really weren't interested in hearing it.

I wish the men would be struck voiceless, for maybe a month. No oral communication whatsoever, and no access to anything to write or post. Then see how they like not being heard.

Pamela T.
Pamela Tracy5 years ago


Laurie D.
Laurie D5 years ago

Mmmm. does this mean as a culture we are only interested in what MEN say? If so, that says a LOT about all the issues we are covering in this forum!

alex l.
alex l5 years ago

@ Adam

yes, they can. but why are they the only ones who are allowed to?

the war on men? usually waged by other men.
war on men because we notice that they are violating our human rights? you know, i don't think that is what "war" means.
war means trying to destroy the other - you know, taking their very most basic rights from them. like being allowed to control your own body, or say "it's wrong, what they are doing to me". those rights, adam, women have been fighting for since history was first recorded.
so please keep the " we don't get to oppress them, so we are oppressed!!!" garbage in the dark of your own head.

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V5 years ago

At least the media should have the balls (pun INTENTED) to post a disclaimer stating that ALL information was gathered from men ONLY and does in NO way reflect the feelings and opinions of women.

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V5 years ago

Steve R., I would say that your statement is a statement of an idiot but that would be an insult to all idiots, everywhere.

Fred Urbasek
Past Member 5 years ago

Adam S. you are right. Just ask Steve R. for his opinion.