Inequality Defines Media

In  “I Analyzed a Year of My Reporting for Gender Bias (Again)” an article written in The Atlantic by Adrienne Lafrance, it analyzes a number of articles and the gender representations in each. Out of the 136 articles written and the 2,065 people mentioned over the course of a year, only 25 percent of people mentioned were women. While this may be only one analysis of a strand of journalistic articles, it does not make it any less true that women are underrepresented in media. Male biases are huge in the world of journalism and media. Men are newsworthy, while women are seen as eye candy.

“When women do show up in the news, it is often as ‘eye candy,’ thus reinforcing women’s value as sources of visual pleasure rather than residing in the content of their views,” wrote a group of researchers from the University of Bristol and Cardiff University published earlier this month.

With the help of Nathan Matias, a Ph.D. student at the MIT Media Lab and a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center, the two conducted various studies of Lawrence’s work and came to the same conclusion. The studies are consistent in the underrepresentation of women in media and the lack of female names as a source. What makes women not the best possible source? Nothing.

Matias and Lawrence brainstormed on what could be done to make a difference:

  1. Actively look for stories about newsworthy women. “The key is that there are two major factors shaping who you mention: the people that your stories are about and the people who you rely on to make sense of those stories,” Matias said.
  2. Be more inclusive in what Matias calls the “one-off” stories, the pieces where there should only be one mention of a person, but don’t necessarily expect that person to be a fixture in the ongoing reporting.

3. Trying harder to cultivate more women sources.


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