Women are “still missing” and men’s voices are “louder and prouder” in the media, says a new survey commissioned by the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia (WLIA).
According to the survey, stories appearing across the Australia media do not reflect the reality that woman make up more than half the population of Australia.
The Women for Media Report titled You can’t be what you can’t see took a snapshot of the most influential news sites on four consecutive Thursday in October of last year. In February of this year, it also looked at the top five opinion pieces on each site across Tuesday to Saturday over one week.
The report looked at seven of the 10 sites which Nielsen says rank highest for traffic for digital content, including 9news, Yahoo!7, The Australian, the Financial Review, The Courier Mail, the Herald Sun, The West Australian and BuzzFeed.
According to the findings of the report, men were quoted far more often than women and the stories by male journalists were positioned slightly more often in the top spots on the home pages of these websites.
Across the data set from all of the sites analysed, the average representation of female sources was just over one-third.
Only the stories on Buzzfeed Australia quoted more women than men. The next best was 9News with women representing 45 per cent of the sources quoted. At the other end is the Australian Financial Review, where women made up only 14 per cent of sources. And, if you read an opinion piece from the two national publications, The Australian and the Financial Review, they are nearly always written by men.
Co-authors of the report, Jenna Price and Anne Maree Payne said: “The media reality is that women are not experts, not sources.
“As those sources, we are missing from news stories and from feature stories, we are missing from photos both as photographers and as subjects; and we are missing in that very influential place in the Australian media landscape, our voices are missing from opinion pieces and columns.”
They added: “Women write about royals and men write about political leaders. Men write about sport, women write about media, the arts and entertainment,” also noting women were absent from photos that accompanied top stories.
News.com.au editor-in-chief Kate de Brito said: “I definitely want gender diversity in our newsroom, I definitely want it in my organisation.
“I definitely want to see it in society, but whether we make that connection in our journalism, I’m not sure. It’s not something I could claim that we think about story by story.
“We might say, ‘Hey there’s too many male faces’ on the page, but it’d be less about trying to create ‘gender diversity’ on our homepage and more about the look of it … ‘Why have we got all these men on a page?’ But sure, we want women, we want men, we want people of colour, we want all that but I’d be lying if I said we come up in the morning and say ‘Let’s make sure the page is gender diverse’”.
Australian Financial Review managing editor Joanne Gray said: “What we would love to do is constantly track how many articles we have about women, quoting women.
“We do pay attention to the pictures of women.
“But quoting women directly and indirectly, I don’t think we’ve been getting the data on that. So, I’m wondering if we can get our product people to come up with a tracker for us, I think that would be really useful.”
The WLIA established the Women for Media initiative in 2012 to increase the visibility of female leaders in the media speaking about their professional areas of expertise.