11 Ways Women Are Still Underrepresented In The Media

“Women, it seems, have come far only if you count progress in inches,” said Kristin Gilger, the associate dean at ASU’s Cronkite School.

Mike Coppola / Getty Images

From newsrooms to films and everything in between, there’s an obvious component missing in nearly every media industry: Women aren’t being equally represented in comparison to their male counterparts.

According to a new report from the Women’s Media Center, women are both under- and misrepresented in the media. Unsurprisingly, white men still dominate fields such as sports journalism, op-ed sections, and Sunday talk shows. The findings in the WMC’s “Status of Women in U.S. Media 2014” report shows that the U.S. media clearly has a long way to go in fairly and accurately representing women.

“The media is failing women across the board,” Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center, said in a press release. “The Women’s Media Center produces the annual Status of Women in U.S. Media Report to provide an overview of the role of women in media and thereby in society. It is a roadmap for where we are as a society and where we need to go for women to achieve an equal voice and equal participation. The numbers tell a clear story for the need for change on every media platform.”

Not much has changed from last year’s report; if anything, some areas have seemingly gotten worse. Here are some of the noteworthy findings from the 2014 “Status of Women in U.S. Media” report:

1. Newsroom staffing decreased by 6.4% from 2011 to 2012, and female staffers remained at 36%.

That figure has pretty much stayed the same since 1999. The number of women of color in newsrooms also decreased overall: There was a 6% drop in multiracial women from 2012 to 2013, a 2% decrease in Latina woman from 2007, a 3% drop in women of Asian descent from 2006, a fall in 3% for black women since 2010, and a 13% decrease in Native American women from the year 2000.

2. Men were used more often as sources in stories than women.

Women’s Media Center

Men were quoted 3.4 more times than women in front page stories in the New York Times over a two-month period in 2013. But stories written by women had better gender representation.

3. The vast majority of op-ed writers and columnists are white men.

Women’s Media Center

Gawker counted only 38 women out of 143 columnists in publications like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

4. White men also overwhelm Sunday morning news talk show guests.

Women’s Media Center

Aside from MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show and Up with Steve Kornacki.

5. Only two women out of 183 sports talk radio hosts were featured on Talkers magazine’s “Heavy Hundred” list.

CNN / Via youtube.com

6. One hundred and fifty print publications and websites that cover sports (90% of which were edited by white males) were given an “F” in an Associated Press sports editors-commissioned study.

ESPN / Via espn.go.com

Eight of the 11 top female sports editors work at ESPN or The Sporting News.

“If the ESPN and The Sporting News sports editors who are women were removed, the percentage of female sports editors would drop from 13.9% to 4.2%,” said Richard Lapchick, director emeritus of Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

7. A tiny number of female characters had speaking roles in popular movies.

Women made up 28.8% of characters with speaking parts in the 100 top-grossing films of 2012. That’s fewer than any year since 2007.

8. Women are also a small percentage of those involved behind the scenes of movies.

Women’s Media Center

Out of the 250 top-grossing films in the U.S. in 2013, women made up 16% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors.

9. More white women but fewer women of color direct primetime TV shows.

Women’s Media Center

But the overall number of women hasn’t changed.

10. There’s a focus on extreme characterizations of black women.

And “a glaring lack of authentic, inspirational images.” Based on a study by Essence.

11. In 2013, women were a small number of the video game industry’s developers…

…even though they made up almost half of video game customers.

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