What progress for gender equality in news 25 years after Beijing?
Preliminary findings of the 2020 Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP)
The 2020 GMMP media sample was taken from a world news environment that had become accustomed to the new coronavirus. The pandemic was the news but not the only news; by the global monitoring day September 29, news stories had diversified to include the spread of topics observed in pre-Covid-19 years.
What to anticipate in the final report:
The final report will present a gender analysis of the 25-year change in the presence, representation and voice of the subjects, sources in mainstream print newspapers, radio and television newscasts, influential news websites and news media tweets in 120 countries.
The final report will offer:
– A special focus on the roles of Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, racialized groups and the elderly in stories published on the global monitoring day;
– A special focus on the representation of social justice movements through a case study of the GMMP day snapshot of news related to Black Lives Matter;
– Gender analysis of change in the specific roles of journalists in mainstream print newspapers, radio and television newscasts, influential news websites and news media tweets across the quarter century;
– Projections for progress over the next decade and beyond;
– Analysis of the links between persistent gender inequality and marginalization of already marginalized voices on the one hand, and the lived social, economic and political experience; and,
– Recommendations for the media industry, media professionals, governments, media development organisations, civil society, the research community, and all stakeholders vested in gender equality in and through the media.
Preliminary results based on data from two-thirds of the participating countries indicate that:
Glass ceilings appear to be setting in on certain important news media gender equality indicators, while others are edging upwards. The past five years have seen small incremental changes towards parity in subjects and sources particularly in broadcast news, at the same time, the pace of change remains glacial. There has however been significant progress towards gender balance in news reporting; women’s role as television news reporters is more prominent now than ever, with 48% of televised news being reported by women.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN LATIN AMERICAN TV NEWS
Twenty-five years after the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing), the news media remain far from being inclusive spaces for women, vulnerable women, and historically marginalized groups. In Latin America, indigenous people make up only 1% of subjects and sources (persons seen, heard or spoken about) in television news stories despite being 8% of the population in the region (see Fig. 2). Out of this meagre proportion, only 3 out of ten are women. In European televised news, people age 80 and over are less than 1% of subjects and sources and, of these, just under 28% are women.
Covid-19 presented an opportunity to investigate the gender dimensions of news during a global pandemic. One out of 4 stories is related to the pandemic, for instance, news about rising social and economic inequalities due to the novel coronavirus.
SUBJECTS & SOURCES IN INTERNET NEWS: COMPARING NON-COVID-19 AND COVID-19-RELATED STORIES
On the Internet, women are less visible in stories related to Covid-19 than in non-Covid news especially in Latin America and Asia. (Fig 3) Only in the Caribbean does web-published news content appear to be performing better in Covid-related stories on this indicator.
On television, the proportion of women subjects and sources is just below the 30% threshold in Covid-19-related news (Fig.4). It seems that the meteoric rise in television viewership ratings in many countries during Covid-19 has brought with it a new importance of television as a space for women’s visibility on issues relevant to the pandemic. On radio as well, the gender gap in subjects and sources in Covid-19-related news is markedly narrower than GMMP patterns up until 2015.
Pandemic news reporting on the Internet appears to increase space for women’s voices interviewed as eyewitnesses and spokespersons. The gender gap for sources interviewed as spokespersons is 10 points narrower in web-published stories, compared to performance on this role in the 2015 (pre-Covid) monitoring.
Those women and men who appear most as experts in Covid-19 televised news are health specialists, but only one out of three is a woman. The gender composition of experts in the news is partly a reflection of the physical world in which women make up the majority of health sector workers but are under-represented in high-skilled jobs, and partly of media gender bias given the gap between the sex ratio of health specialists in reality, and the same as expert interviewees. (See Fig.5)
The gender gap in reporters on pandemic-related news appears to be narrower than in non-pandemic news; Latin America outperforms the rest of the world, with an over-representation of women as reporters in Covid-related online news. (Fig 6)
Stories that clearly challenge gender stereotypes on Twitter
Non-Covid-19 stories are more likely to challenge gender stereotypes than stories related to the pandemic. On Twitter, 3% of tweets about non-Covid-19 issues are likely to challenge gender stereotypes but this probability falls in tweets related to the novel coronavirus.