The representation of women in the media

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In a recent report from the Guardian, articles from major newspapers across the nation were compared in an attempt to find an idea of what percentage were authored by both male and female writers. The results were shocking. Of all articles written for newspapers, the study finds that on average, females are behind only 30% of published articles. The other 70% are provided by men. This quite rightly leads people to wondering exactly why this is the case.

In a further breakdown, the Guardian continued their report by looking at female presence in the different sections of newspapers. The results showed that females did indeed dominate several sections’ authorship but in others they are entirely absent. There is an overwhelming majority of female authors in both entertainment and lifestyle; and a vast minority in sports, front-page news, and science and technology.

The report goes onto examine how female readers, as a whole, interact with these subjects through comments and social media sharing and again, a gender divide appears.  Women are much more likely to interact with and share articles about popular culture—entertainment and lifestyle—than they are to discuss sport, news, or science.

While some may feel this breakdown is to be expected, others are responding to this report with both shock and condemnation. The year 2012 does not expect to see gender biases and inequality in the workplace, nor do they expect to see women assigned stereotypical gender roles. It is a hot issue at the moment with politicians around the globe threatening women’s choices and bringing attention back to women’s rights. Feminism is the latest trend, and the allotment of articles to woman speaks volumes about culture in general. It deserves investigation as to why we see men and women in certain ways (due to tradition or nature), and whether this designation of societal roles ought to hold a place in our modern age.

In an attempt to explain these recent findings, some are suggesting that the gender divide in newspapers may only be attributed to the journalistic image of a tough, clever, male reporter who whittles answers out of interviewees. This provides an image that can be seen to clash with social ideas of what femininity is defined as: kindness, honesty, and compassion. Furthermore, if female writers do pursue a journalism career, this report implies they will be automatically slotted into the socially “more feminine” sections of lifestyle, entertainment, and general popular culture.

Many question if this is gender performativity in action, the idea that because women are born female they are subconsciously aware and abiding to what it means to be feminine (in this case, to write the “fluffier” side of journalism)? Or are women simply more in-tuned with this idea of popular culture, and what one could argue is the more emotional, people-oriented end of the journalistic field? Consequently, is it only normal that women leave the “tougher” areas of sports, front-page news, and technology to their male counterparts? Many would believe this is in fact the larger social norm. Thus, journalist authorship is merely a lens to reflect it.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Wiki commons

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