The State of Women in Media Is Not Great

A new survey repeats the same finding as last year: Women are underrepresented.

L-R) CNBC anchor Erin Burnett speaks during a roundtable discussion with economist Mark Zandi of Moody's and editor-in-chief of Forbes Steve Forbes during a taping of 'Meet the Press' at the NBC studios February 1, 2009 in Washington, DC. The roundtable was discussing the stimulus package being debated in Congress and the current economic crisis. 
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Elahe Izad
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Elahe Izad
Feb. 19, 2014, 10:15 a.m.

The ladies of Amer­ica are not lean­ing in, at least not in me­dia.

There are few bright spots for fe­male rep­res­ent­a­tion in the latest sur­vey by the Wo­men’s Me­dia Cen­ter, a re­port that com­piles find­ings from vari­ous stud­ies. In vir­tu­ally every field of me­dia, from film dir­ect­ors to journ­al­ists, wo­men are not rep­res­en­ted nearly as of­ten as men. Even An­gelina Jolie, Hol­ly­wood’s highest-paid fe­male act­or, got paid about the same amount as some of the low­est-paid male stars.

Wo­men also don’t serve as sources for news stor­ies as of­ten as men do. Dur­ing a two-month win­dow, men were quoted 3.4 times more of­ten than wo­men in New York Times front-page stor­ies, ac­cord­ing to a Uni­versity of Nevada (Las Ve­gas) ana­lys­is. Fe­male re­port­ers quoted male sources more of­ten as well, but the dis­par­ity was smal­ler.

Then there are the Sunday polit­ic­al talk shows. Most of their guests are still white and male. The Amer­ic­an Uni­versity Wo­men and Polit­ics In­sti­tute found that nearly three-fourths of the talk-show guests are men. Even though a re­cord num­ber of wo­men are serving in Con­gress, they still make up only 18.5 per­cent of the two cham­bers. So some of the lack of gender di­versity on screen has to do with the fact that white men have dis­pro­por­tion­ately been elec­ted to of­fice.

“The av­er­age per­son flip­ping through the chan­nels on Sunday morn­ing will be left with the quite ac­cur­ate im­pres­sion that polit­ics is an area dom­in­ated by men’s voices,” the in­sti­tute’s dir­ect­or, Jen­nifer Law­less, told WMC.

That’s bad news for people in­ves­ted in polit­ics, re­gard­less of party. Wo­men make up more than half of the Amer­ic­an pop­u­la­tion, and since the 1980s, fe­male voter turnout is high­er than male turnout. The arena of polit­ics may be dom­in­ated by men’s voices, but wo­men are the ones more likely to cast bal­lots.

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