Study Finds Women’s Voices Underrepresented in the News

A study released yesterday by the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) found that American news journalists cite men as sources twice as often as women. The report states that “[d]espite rising numbers of women in the workforce and in journalism schools, the news of the day still largely comes from a male perspective.” This was the case across a broad spectrum of news media, including newspapers, cable and broadcast television programs, and online news. Newspapers were the most inclusive of women’s voices, with 41 percent containing at least one female source. Cable news ranked at the bottom of the tier at only 19 percent.

The study surveyed 16,800 news stories, 76 percent of which cited at least one male source, with only 33 percent citing a female source. In stories with two or more sources, journalists were more than three times as likely to cite at least two males than two females. Only in “lifestyle” stories were women quoted as often as men, with women least quoted in the subject of foreign affairs.

The study found that women journalists were more likely than male journalists to cite female sources. However, a significant disparity exists between the number of women and men journalists in American newsrooms. According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, roughly 40 percent of newspaper reporters are women, and women make-up only 33 percent of supervisors. The PEJ study concludes that increasing the number of women journalists would likely improve representation of women sources.

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Newsday 5/23/05; Project for Excellence in Journalism 5/23/05; American Society of Newspaper Editors 4/9/02

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