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The media

Modified on 2015/05/22 14:39 by Sean Zheng Paths: Read in Order Categorized as Chapter 2 - Power and decision-making
Table II.21

From gender issues to gender statistics on power and decision-making in the media: illustrative examples


Policy-relevant questions Data needed Sources of data
Are women underrepresented among journalists? Journalists by sex. Surveys of companies in the media.
Population censuses.
Very large labour force surveys.
Are women underrepresented among news editors and heads of departments in the media? News editors by sex.
Heads of department in the media by sex.
Surveys of companies in the media.
Do female and male political candidates receive an equal share of presentation in the media? Broadcasting time or space in the print media devoted to electoral candidates by sex of the candidate. Media monitoring studies.

  • + Gender issues
    • Women remain poorly represented in decision-making positions in the media (Peters, 2001; International Federation of Journalists, 2010). The number of women journalists has increased dramatically and many countries are close to reaching or have already reached gender parity among journalists. Nevertheless, there are still many countries where women are underrepresented among journalists. Furthermore, in most countries, women and men do not play an equal role in the reporting of news. Women tend to be less involved than men in what is considered to be “hard” news, i.e., news in economic, political or war domains, and more involved in “soft” news, i.e., news focused on social issues. Women tend to be well represented among the news presenters, but very poorly represented among news editors, heads of departments and media owners.

      The role of the media is crucial for power and decision-making. However, the media itself operates within social, economic and political contexts, meaning that it reflects commonly-held perceptions while simultaneously affecting how people perceive issues. The portrayal of electoral candidates is one example. For instance, according to the publication Unseeing Eyes: Media Coverage and Gender in Latin American elections (Llanos, 2011), in 2009, in Bolivia, female candidates represented 47 per cent of all candidates, but obtained only 27 per cent of print media coverage, 14 per cent of television coverage and 34 per cent of radio coverage. Unequal media coverage of women candidates results in them being perceived to be less legitimate, thereby diminishing their chances of being elected.

  • + Data needed
    • Data used to analyse the participation and coverage of women and men in the media may refer to:

      (a) Journalists by sex;

      (b) News editors by sex;

      (c) Heads of department in the media by sex;

      (d) Coverage (broadcasting time or space in the print media) of political candidates by sex of the candidate;

      (e) Coverage (broadcasting time or space in the print media) of gender and equality issues in the media.


  • + Sources of data
    • Surveys of companies in the media can be used to collect data on the sex-distribution of journalists, editors and heads of departments in the media.

      Population censuses can provide some data on journalists when a detailed classification of occupations is used during data collection.

      Media monitoring studies are an important source of information on (a) coverage of gender and equality issues in the media; (b) stereotypical presentation of gender roles, including sexist and biased presentation of women; and (c) gender balanced coverage of persons in positions of power and decision-making or political candidates. These studies can also be used as a source of information on the representation of women among presenters and journalists.

  • + Conceptual and measurement issues
    • At the national level, there are no standard sources of data for women and men in positions of power and decision-making in the media and such data are rarely produced. Some surveys of companies in the media and media monitoring studies have been conducted across several countries by some NGOs on an ad hoc basis. Population censuses, conducted by national statistical offices, are often able to collect data on journalists, among other occupations. However, these data are not routinely processed at such a level of disaggregation that would distinguish journalists from other occupations. Routinely, at the four-digit ISCO level, journalists are included in a heterogeneous category of “authors, journalists and other writers”.

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