OLD Media Moves

Time to cover more women in business stories

March 1, 2006

Lori Hope, editor of Bay Area Business Women, quotes some statistics from a recent study of how women are covered in the media that should be downright embarrassing for anyone who believes in trying to present an accurate reflection of the business community in the business section.

Hope writes: “The 2005 Global Media Monitoring Project shows:

҉ۢ Women are central to the news in only 10 percent of stories. In economics reporting, women are the focus in only 3 percent of stories; in pieces about politics and government, women garner only 8 percent of the focus.

҉ۢ Only 3 percent of stories challenge gender stereotypes.

҉ۢ Just 4 percent of stories deal with gender equality.

“This is due partly to who’s assigning the news stories. Women comprised 21 percent of news directors at U.S. television stations in 2004; among communications companies in the Fortune 500, women on average comprise 12 percent of board members. The percentage of top editor positions at mainstream newspapers was down to 20 percent in 2002; a mere quarter of syndicated columnists are women, and only 10 to 20 percent of op-ed columns are written by women.”

Read her entire column here. To find out more about the Global Media Monitoring Project, go here. On an encouraging note, I found that the percentage of women as “news subjects” in business stories has gone from 10 percent in 1995 to 18 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2005. And the percentage of women who write about business and the economy has gone from 35 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2005.

I challenge all business reporters and editors to look at their business section for the past month and count how many times a man was quoted and how many times a woman was quoted. If the numbers are way out of balance, then it’s time to sit down and rethink how you report stories and what sources you use. Also, think about some long-term ways in which you can add women to your coverage.

I’m not suggesting gratuitous stories about women in business. The business world is no longer a male-dominated part of our society, and the business section should reflect that.

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