Women still underrepresented across media finds latest study

Despite improvements, men continue to dominate the Australian media, from the newsroom to the boardroom, according to a new study.

The Women in Media Gender Scorecard, undertaken by iSentia for the not-for-profit, found that men accounted for 70% of quoted sources, with a similarly high figure included as experts.

The scorecard identifies core areas in media analytics (bylines, sources, experts) to monitor change and positive or negative shifts towards achieving parity for women. iSentia analysed 18,346 press, radio and TV news reports over a 14-day period, 18-31 July 2022, in compiling the research.

iSentia found that there is a 14-point gap between male and female representation, although this is an improvement on the previous scorecard in 2016.

Key findings of the Women in Media Gender Scorecard include:

● Males dominate as byline authors, sources and experts in most prolific sections of the media: sport (82% male authors, only 18% women), politics (59% male authors, only 41% women) and finance (63% male authors, only 37% women).

● Even when adjusting for share of employment (using ABS data) females remain highly under-represented as sources and experts in media coverage.

● Several industries, such as retail and sport, recorded a 40% under-representation of female experts given their high share of female employment.

● Sport has an outsized effect in the media, accounting for almost one-quarter of all bylined stories. With only 18% of sport stories written by women it brings female bylines down to 43% overall. If sports coverage was to be removed from the data, women’s bylines for the reference period would exceed parity at 51%.

● Efforts to achieve gender parity among media organisations have had positive results, with an upswing of more than 10% towards women since 2016. However the Women in Media Gender Scorecard projects it will take more than a decade to achieve parity unless proactive campaigns are implemented to effect change.

“This report proves that a gender divide still exists,” said Women in Media strategic advisor, Petra Buchanan. “The research shows that the inclusion, portrayal, and projection of women in Australian media has a way to go.

“Based on its current trajectory, the Women in Media Gender Scorecard will not achieve media
gender parity until 2034. That is far too long to wait for equal representation of women as authors,
sources and experts in the media. Steps need to be taken now to speed up change.

“Action in key sectors including retail, sport, health, social issues and education will drive us towards achieving that objective sooner.”

Call to action

Women in Media concludes that industry, organisations and the media can make quicker advances
to achieving gender parity in four specific areas.

● Industry and organisations to develop female sources and experts as media representatives. Review and assess levels of female representation, invest in training and development for spokeswomen, and commit to monitor change. Greatest impact could begin in retail, sport, and finance – fields with the smallest proportion of females as sources.

● Media to commit to increase female bylines equal to gender percentages of the population (50/50).

● Media to address gender imbalance in most prolific areas of coverage: sport, finance, health, and politics.

● Media to focus on gender balance in news and reporting through inclusion and diversity in content development by ensuring workplaces support and provide visibility for women and pathways to leadership positions.


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