Where Is She? Fix the Gender, Race Gaps In Media

Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change The World in Journalism recent gathering at the Ford Foundation.

Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change The World in Journalism recent gathering at the Ford Foundation.

Women and persons of color are still underrepresented and underpaid in print, digital, startup, television and radio media, as well as in STEM fields, tech, gaming and entertainment including big screen, small screen and stage.

That’s not news.

The latest assessment of  The Status of Women in The U.S. Media 2019 report from the Women’s Media Center in their exhaustively thorough report with thousands of key findings (we have edited for you here) shows the persistent gaps are narrowing in some instances.

The good news is they have recommendations to close the gaps and to make sure that women and all under-represented voices have a fair chance to be seen, heard and paid the same.

Women and POC are still underrepresented & underpaid in print, digital, startup, television & radio media, as well as in STEM fields, tech, gaming and entertainment including big screen, small screen and stage. #CloseTheGap

“Fewer opportunities and promotions for women translate into fewer women reporting the news than men; fewer women creating films and television than men; fewer women driving technology, gaming and innovation. Even artificial intelligence has a gender and racial bias when its machine learning is based on language and structures dominated by men. Media tells our society (and our young people) what is important and who matters. The data in this report paints a stark picture,” says Julie Burton, president of WMC.

She adds, “It takes deliberate effort to ensure that women — nearly fifty-one percent of the U.S. population — as well as persons of color, have an equal role in determining which narratives the media create. We’ve got to dig in.”

Take The Lead is digging in with its recent launch of 50 Women Can Change The World In Journalism. Read more about that effort here.

@TakeLeadWomen is digging into creating equality within media & representation with its recent launch of #50WomenCanChangeTheWorld In Journalism.

Here are the broad brushstrokes on the landscape for women and persons of color in media. In print and digital media, parity is skewed.

  • The percentage of White and male workers in newsrooms was higher than in that of the overall U.S. workforce, according to the Pew Research Center.

  • 74 percent of 30- to 49-year-old newsroom employees were White, while 61 percent of all U.S. workers in that age group were White.

  • 85 percent of newsroom employees aged 50 and older were White, while 74 percent of all U.S. workers in that age group were White.

  • The American Society of News Editors’ latest tally found that women comprised 41.7 percent and people of color 22.6 percent of the overall workforce in those responding newsrooms

  • Sports desks at 75 of the nation’s newspapers and online news sites earned a “B+” for racial diversity, a “D+” for gender and racial diversity, combined, and a sixth consecutive “F” for lack of gender equity, according to the “Racial and Gender Report Card,” commissioned by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

Read more in Take The Lead on women in journalism.

In newsrooms, a byline gap is prominent while topics and news beats are genderized, reverting back to what is called the “pink ghetto” of journalism, where women are assigned “soft” topics and men are assigned “hard” news.

  • 69 percent of news wire bylines (AP and Reuters) are snagged by men, 31 percent by women — by far the biggest gender gap in news media.

  • 63 percent of TV prime-time news broadcasts feature male anchors and correspondents; 37 percent feature women.

  • 60 percent of online news is written by men, 40 percent by women

  • 59 percent of print news is written by men, 41 percent by women.

  • HuffPost, Vox and MSNBC performed best when it came to women, with females, respectively, named in 50 percent, 51 percent and 51 percent of bylines.

  • In technology and media coverage, men got credits on 67 percent of articles and women, 33 percent.

  • In international news and political coverage, men got 66 percent of byline credits; women got 34 percent.

  • In female-dominated health coverage, women accounted for 58 percent of bylines.

  • For lifestyle/leisure coverage, women took 52 percent of bylines.

Read more in take The Lead on women making history in journalism.

The pay gap persists in news.

  • Men dominated the highest paid news jobs, those being critic, domestic correspondent, reporter, art director, graphics/multimedia editor and photographer.

  • The percentage of women working as critics was 15.8 percent; as domestic correspondents, 37.9 percent; as reporters, 37.4 percent; as art directors, 40 percent; as graphics/multimedia editors, 28.6 percent; and as photographers, 35.7 percent.

  • By race, among news professionals, Whites earned 3 percent above the average of salaries paid to everyone. Asians earned 5.6 percent below the average; Blacks, 10.3 percent below; and Latinos, 11.4 percent below.

  • By race, among business professionals, Native Americans/Native Alaskans earned 22 percent above, Asians earned 8.9 percent above and Whites earned 4.6 percent above the average salary. Blacks earned 7.4 percent below and Latinos 27.4 percent below the average.

  • People of color were over-represented in the lowest-paid jobs: staff editor, intermediate journalist, senior news assistant, assistant video journalist, sales planner, news assistant, telephone sales incentive representative, help desk analyst, security guard and office person.

TV and radio news is also out of synch with the population and tilts male and white, though there is improvement.

  • A record high of 44.4 percent of local TV news staffers were female, up from 44 percent in 2016.

  • Females accounted for 43.1 percent of staffers at stations in the top 50 markets; 44 percent of staffers at the next largest 51 to 100 markets; and 46.5 percent in markets larger than 100.

  • $103,900 was the average salary of female news directors in TV in 2017 while $111,400 was the average salary of male news directors in TV in 2017.

  • $41,100 was the average salary of female news directors in radio in 2017 as $46,800 was the average salary of male news directors in radio in 2017.

In film and television, the majority of those in positions of authority are white and male.

  • Over 12 years, through 2018, men accounted for 93.4 percent, or, 654, of the 704 individual directors of the highest-grossing films. Women accounted for 6.6 percent, or, 46 of those 704, according to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.”

  • Females accounted for fewer than a third of speaking characters in 1,100 films released during 11 consecutive years ending in 2017, according to researchers at USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

  • Women comprised 32 percent of film reviewers and men, 68 percent, according to an analysis of 4,111 reviews written in 2018 and posted on the popular Rotten Tomatoes website, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film.

  • The share of women among nominees in the Oscars’ 19 non-acting categories rose slightly from 23 percent to 25 percent from 2018 to 2019, but women were shut out of nominations for cinematography, directing, editing, original score and visual effects, according to the Women’s Media Center.

  • The number of women and people of color directing episodes of entertainment TV shows, for a second consecutive year, hit a record high during the 2017-18 season, according to the Directors Guild of America.

  • The proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer regular (LGBTQ) characters cast during the 2018-19 broadcast TV season — 8.8 percent of 857 regular characters — was the highest tallied in the 14 years that the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has tracked broadcast series characters.

Read more in Take The Lead on 50 Women Can Change The World in Media and Entertainment.

Role models are reported to be important for young people, though females and persons of color do not see themselves represented in media, according to research by the U.S.-based Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and the London-based J. Walter Thompson Worldwide surveyed women in Brazil, China, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Russia, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

#RoleModels are reported to be important for young people, though females and persons of color do not see themselves represented in media. #RepresentationMatters

The Lyda Hill Foundation, the Institute’s Representations of STEM Characters in Media study analyzed roughly 22,000 female characters in the 100 most watched TV entertainment shows, 100 most profitable films and 60 most-watched online streaming shows from 2007 through 2017.

  • Across those platforms, researchers counted 1,007 female STEM characters among that total of 22,000 women characters.

  • 9 percent of STEM characters were male and 37.1 percent were female.

  • Whites comprised 71.2 percent, Blacks 16.7 percent, Asians 5.6 percent, Latinos 3.9 percent and those of Middle Eastern descent 1.7 percent of STEM characters.

  • 4 percent of female characters vs. 11.8 percent of male ones were physical scientists; 2.4 percent of female characters vs. 13.7 percent of male characters were engineers; 8.6 percent of females vs. 11.5 percent of males were computer professionals.

  • 43 percent of STEM characters were shown as sacrificing their personal life to their professional STEM pursuits.

  • 5 percent of female characters and 50 percent of male ones were portrayed as leaders in STEM.

Call it the Wonder Woman & Wakanda Effect.

  • 63 percent of girls of color and 52 percent of White girls strongly agreed that female sci-fi/superheroes make them feel like they can achieve anything they put their minds to.

  • 70 percent of girls aged 10 to 19 saw female sci-fi/superheroes as powerful; 60 percent of them saw male sci-fi/superheroes as powerful.

  • 70 percent of girls aged 10 to 19 saw female sci-fi/superheroes as smart; 60 percent of them saw male sci-fi/ superheroes as smart.

Setting the stage for equity is not part of stage performances nationwide.

  • Whites got 74 percent of stage contracts, nationally.

  • Though female stage managers outnumbered male stage managers, women stage managers earned less.

  • Excluding weekly contracts of at least $10,000, average weekly earnings across contract types was $746.

  • Of the 30,452 lead actors in major plays on Broadway and other big theaters, 60.9 percent were men; 39.1 percent were women.

Tech remains static with the status quo. Administered by the Kapor Center and The Harris Poll via an online questionnaire from Dec. 19, 2016 through Jan. 19, 2017, the survey examined those who’d left a job at a tech firm or a tech position at a non-tech firm within the last three years

  • Over a decade, there was no significant rise in the number of female tech workers and Black tech workers, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s most recent data

  • 36 percent were female, 63 percent were male and 1 percent had some other gender identity.

  • Racially, 73 percent were White, 11 percent were Latinx, 7 percent were Black, 6 percent were South or East Asian or Pacific Islander, 1 percent were either Native American or Alaskan Native. These researchers also found that:

  • 78 percent of study participants reported experiencing some form of unfair behavior or treatment.

  • 28 percent of White and Asian women but 36 percent of underrepresented women of color cited workplace unfairness as a major reason for leaving a tech job; 39 percent of White and Asian men but 40 percent of underrepresented men of color said the same.

  • 47 percent of White and Asian women but 32 percent of underrepresented women of color said they were dissatisfied with their company’s leadership.

  • 30 percent of underrepresented women of color reported being passed over for promotion

Harassment at work in tech fields is alarming. The recent “Tech and Startup Culture Survey” of 750 women and 200 men, noting that, given the make-up of that surveyed group, “some data and findings may vary when compared to the industry at large.”

  • 53 percent of women and 16 percent of men said they had been harassed at work.

  • 37 percent of women and 38 percent of men said they had witnessed harassment at work.

  • Of women who were harassed, 72 percent said they’d experienced sexism; 51 percent, offensive slurs; 45 percent, sexual harassment; 15 percent, racism; and 11 percent in the form of stalking.

What can you do about it? The WMC has specific solutions and recommendations:

  1. “Conduct a personnel audit. Set achievable goals for creating and maintaining a workplace that reflects the general population’s diversity.

  2. Staff with intention. Hire those who will take on a diversity of issues in news coverage, entertainment, gaming, social media, et cetera.

  3. Mentor and encourage. In ways formal and informal, provide guidance, reassurance and constructive advice to young women of all races and classes who are considering or emerging in your profession.

  4. Get serious about work-life balance for women and men. Flexible schedules, paid maternity/paternity/elder-care leave can be tools for boosting worker productivity and devotion to their workplace.

  5. Encourage candid conversations about gender and racial parity. You do not have to be a woman or person of color to speak out about why media content and context should be balanced and well-rounded, and how to achieve those ends.

  6. Raise awareness. Educate yourself and your colleagues, bosses, neighbors and friends about areas of film, TV, radio, newspapers and online information and entertainment where women and people of color are acutely underrepresented and/or misrepresented and about how those realities impact the corporate bottom line and society.”

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