There is a crisis of representation in the media. We live in a racially and ethnically diverse nation that is 51% female, but the news media itself remains staggeringly limited to a single demographic.
The media is the single most powerful tool at our disposal; it has the power to educate, effect social change, and determine the political policies and elections that shape our lives. Our work in diversifying the media landscape is critical to the health of our culture and democracy.
Consider the Following Statistics
- According to the Global Media Monitoring Project 2010, 24% of the people interviewed, heard, seen, or read about in mainstream broadcast and print news were female. Only 13% of stories focused specifically on women and 6% on issues of gender equality or inequality. What’s more, news stories by female reporters are almost twice as likely to challenge gender stereotypes than stories by male reporters and the stories feature female subjects and topics that matter to women.
- In addition, women were the news subjects for only 23% of stories on 84 news websites monitored -- this suggests that underrepresentation of women in the virtual news world is as dramatic as in the traditional news media.
- Even at National Public Radio - considered an industry leader in engaging female correspondents and hosts - women represented only 26% of the sources in 2010.
- The 2011 "Heavy Hundred" "most important radio talk show hosts in America," selected by the editors of Talkers magazine with input from industry leaders, included only 13 solo women hosts and three women who co-host shows with men.
- Women represented just over one-fifth (21.7%) of guests on Sunday morning news talk shows airing on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and Fox News in 2011 according to American University School of Public Affairs Women and Politics Institute.
- Women are a small minority in key sports news occupations with virtually no change over three years according to studies for the Associated Press Sports Editors (conducted by Lapchick et al. in 2008 and 2011). In 2011, just 11.4% of sports editors, 10% of sports columnists, and 7% of sports reporters were women.
- According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, women accounted for 25% of all creators, executive producers, producers, directors, writers, editors, and directors of photography working on situation comedies, dramas, and reality programs airing on the broadcast networks in the 2010-11 prime-time television season. Among writers, just 15% were women; of directors, just 11% were women; and of directors of photography, just 4% were women.
- The same study also found that in 2011, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. Women comprised just 5% of directors, 15% of writers, and 4% of cinematrographers.
Download our full report, The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2012.