Reproductive Rights

Study Exposes ‘Gender Gap’ in Media Coverage of Reproductive Issues

A new study by the Women’s Media Center has revealed more than half of news stories focusing on reproductive issues are written by men.

According to WMC Media Watch: the Gender Gap in Coverage of Reproductive Issues, men penned 52 percent of bylines discussing issues of reproductive health care — including contraception and abortion — compared to just 37 percent by women. Moreover, the report, which examined 1,385 news stories published by the twelve highest-circulating media outlets, also found quotes from men outnumber those from women, accounting for 41 percent from men versus a mere 33 percent by women. Men are also more likely to include interviews with other men in their coverage of reproductive heath topics as well as frame them as “political issues” rather than matters of “health,” as favored by women.

“Since women play a greater role in reproduction, it would make sense for women to be the majority of the sources and authorities in its coverage,” said WMC co-founder Gloria Steinem in response to the study’s findings.

Unfortunately, women’s underrepresentation in media has persisted across subject matter. Last year, WMC found women authored only 37 percent of print news stories, with men dominating coverage in almost all areas including US politics (65 percent), world politics (64 percent), science (63 percent), and technology (62 percent). WMC’s most recent findings, however, were released at a time of increasingly dangerous anti-abortion rhetoric and numerous ideologically-driven political maneuvers aimed at restricting women’s access to contraception. The study highlights a critical gap in accurate reporting of one of the most urgent issues affecting women today: reproductive healthcare.

“The American public — and especially women — deserve accurate, informed and experienced media coverage on reproductive health, state and federal legislation, abortion and contraception,” said Steinem. “This research is offered in the hope of increasing public information about reproductive justice — which means the right to have or not to have children — as a basic human right.”

Media Resources: Women’s Media Center Press Release 1/19/16; TIME 6/5/15

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