Why WAM!?

Power and privilege is about who gets to speak and who is listened to. Most of the time, it is not women. In its most recent report, the Global Media Monitoring Project concluded, “The world we see in the news is a world in which women are virtually invisible.” Their study found that:

  • Only 21% of the news subjects were women; women were more than twice as likely to be portrayed as victims and three times as likely to be identified by family status (for example, as wife or mother).
  • Men were 83% of the cited experts and 86% of the spokespersons.
  • Only 14% of those interviewed or portrayed in political or government news were female.
  • Women were only 20% of those interviewed or portrayed in business and economic news.

Other research supports our concerns about the underrepresentation of women in the media:

  • The Pew Research Center found that only 30% of U.S. news coverage included even one female source. (Cable news and PBS NewsHour fared worse with only 19% of the news stories citing a woman.) This year, fewer than 14% of the op-eds published by the Washington Post were by women, and an equal percent by minorities.
  • Researchers at Rutgers University found that almost all of the academic opinions came from men: 97% in The Wall Street Journal and 82% in The New York Times.
  • The White House Project, a woman’s organization committed to expanding representation of women in elected office, found that only 14% of the guests on Sunday morning public affair talk shows are female, and that women were less likely to be the lead guest or be invited back for repeat appearances.
  • The U.S intellectual and political magazines are dominated by male writers. The male-to-female ratio of the Atlantic was 6 to 1; Foreign Affairs 6 to 1; the New Yorker, 3.5 to 1; New York Times Magazine, 2.5to 1; and the New Republic, 8 to 1.
  • Alternative U.S. media such as Counterpunch, ZNet and Common Dreams heavily favor male writersand the guest lists of The Daily Show and the Colbert Report are 75% male.

Without strategies to highlight women’s voices on social and political issues, women will continue to be on the sidelines of public discourse, and policy-making.


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