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Women under-reported in global wealth-gap news

September 30, 2010

GENEVA

Women remain grossly underrepresented in newspaper, television and radio reporting, the Global Media Monitoring Project has found in recent research.

Carried out in newspapers, television and radio newscasts in 108 countries across the world, the project found that only 3 percent of stories on poverty highlight gender equality and inequality issues, the GMMP said in a Sept. 13 statement.

The research results were released in advance of the Sept. 20-22 United Nations Millennium Development Goals summit in New York, which is to examine eight development goals to be achieved by 2015.

The media project, coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication, found that only 2 percent of stories on education and 3 percent of those on the environment underscore gender inequality, following research carried out in the global North and South.

The GMMP says it aims to promote “fair and balanced gender representation in and through the news media.”

While the GMMP did not research new media, on the U.S. portal PoliticsDaily.com, journalist Luisita Lopez Torregrosa had written in April: “Here’s good news! A quick tour of new and improved news-and-infotainment Web sites — dozens of them — reveals that women by the droves are successfully making the leap from old journalism to new media.”

Torregrosa continued, “But when she looks around her Web newsroom, she notices that the highly-prized jobs of Web developers — the thinkers, the innovators, the ground breakers — are all held by men.”

Separately, a Bangladesh group in July highlighted the “stereotyping and exclusion of women” by media as a barrier to gender equality. “Traditional and imaginary roles of women dominate media representation of women. But their real contributions to the economy and society are marginalized,” the Citizens’ Initiatives group reported.

The GMMP research focused on five of the U.N. development goals: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality, achieving universal primary education, combating HIV and AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development.

When it came to poverty, the research found that 8 percent of stories focus centrally on women, while 9 percent of stories on education highlight them. On HIV and AIDS, the focus on women showed a higher proportion of stories at 39 percent. But women scored lower on stories of global partnerships at 19 percent and sank to 4 percent when it came to their prominent role in stories about the environment.

The research also found a minimal number of stories on the same topics clearly challenged gender stereotypes. Of the 5 development goals selected, news media reportage on HIV and AIDS was found the most gender-responsive from a world average standpoint.

Other findings of the survey were that women are inching closer to parity as people providing popular opinion in the news, at 44 percent of persons interviewed in the news in this capacity. In contrast, only one out of five experts in the news is female.

Women are portrayed differently than men in news stories. Their ages are reported on twice as much as those of  men; they appear in photographs 1.5 times more than males and news stories do not represent women in professional or authority roles to the degree they are present.

Women report only 37 percent of news stories in newspapers, on radio and television combined in the survey sample. News stories by female reporters are almost twice as likely to challenge gender stereotypes, than stories by males.

The full results of the GMMP research will be presented on Sept. 29.

The GMMP says it is the world’s largest and longest running research and advocacy initiative on gender in the news media.

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