Female Representation in Journalism: A Harsh Reality

Sanaa Mahmud Sanaa Mahmud Instagram May 15, 2020 · 3 mins read
Female Representation in Journalism: A Harsh Reality
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Imagine you get a job in your dream field of work. You start off well, yet after a while, you realize that your role in the company is not advancing and your work is being limited. This is how women in journalism feel on a daily basis. Despite the major strides made regarding gender equality, the world of journalism is still very imbalanced when it comes to the representation of males versus females. In recent years, studies and data have shown that there are more females making up journalism students in universities and colleges. Yet, females only make up 39% of newsrooms. Therefore, the news is predominantly covered by men. 

A lot of this imbalance in representation comes from past and current gender stereotypes. In 2016, it was reported that in the United States, fields of reporting with over 50% of female representation included lifestyle, education, and healthcare. Whereas, there was less that 30% of female representation in topics such as sports, weather, and crime and justice. In Canadian newsrooms, many major news organizations have also shown large gender gaps, according to a 2015 study. The Global Media Monitoring Project looked into 23 Canadian news organizations, including CBC, CTV, the Toronto Star, and the Globe and Mail. They found that only 43% of reporters were female, and that only 31% of women reporters had covered stories regarding politics and government. Additionally, the study found that women were more likely than men to include female sources in their articles. 

You must be wondering: Why is equal representation in the news important? One major reason that gender equality in the media matters is because women bring new and different perspectives to journalism, sparking more interest in global news and creating a broader audience. The Women’s Media Center put out a study in 2017, outlining the consequences of a lack of female representation in journalism. The study stated that in 12 top U.S. news outlets, campus sexual assault stories were mainly written by men. In these stories, male journalists were more likely to focus on the impact on the perpetrator, and his behaviour surrounding rape charges. On the other hand, female journalists who covered sexual assault were more likely to focus on the victim’s behaviour, and how rape impacted them. This is just one example revealing a difference in perspective that occurs when the same type of story is covered by a man or a woman. Women also emphasize different ideas than men. A study in 2013 found that women writing editorial pieces prominently used words including abuse, assault, children, equality, education, discrimination, and violence. This difference in subject matter and perspective is important to have in the media, especially in news and broadcasting. It provides a more detailed and comprehensive story, helping the audience to become better-informed. 

Now, there is one major question left: Is it possible to have equal representation in newsrooms, and how can we achieve it? Firstly, it is TOTALLY possible to represent males and females equally in journalism! The world of reporting, broadcasting, and news would be far better if there were many contrasting perspectives on world issues. Journalism could be elevated from what it is now, to keep national and global audiences engaged and well-informed. To achieve this proper balance, we can be aware of the challenges that women in journalism face, and stand up for their right to equal representation and opportunities. We can use our voices, as well as social media platforms to advocate for this cause, and inform those around us about the issue. 

Image Source: “Woman Writing in Notebook” by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

Sanaa Mahmud
Written by Sanaa Mahmud Instagram
Former Editor-In-Chief