Got women? Canada’s mainstream media inching towards gender parity
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Ottawa, ON – A new study reveals not only that women remain significantly underrepresented as subjects and sources in the Canadian media, but that little has changed in more than two decades. Men currently account for 71% of all those quoted or interviewed for newspaper articles and broadcast segments, with women’s voices having edged up a mere 5% since 1993.
The independently-conducted study reviewed 1,467 articles and broadcast segments from seven Canadian newspapers and media outlets over the course of three distinct monitoring periods between October and December 2015. The results reveal that women’s voices make up only 29% of those being heard on the air or quoted in print. When individuals who were neither Canadian nor in Canada were omitted from the sample, female representation rose slightly to 32%.
The study follows on content analysis research conducted annually by Media Action (then called MediaWatch) between 1990 and 1993. During that period, the number of women quoted or interviewed in the Canadian media rose marginally from 17% to 22%.
“It’s disappointing to see such minimal change in more than two decades,” says Shari Graydon, catalyst and founder of Informed Opinions, which commissioned the study. “Women now make up more than 60% of university graduates and are successful in many fields that were once male-dominated, but Canadian media aren’t yet reflecting that expertise. More often than not, men still do the talking.”
The study focused on seven Canadian media outlets or programs with substantial audience numbers, including the online editions of the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the National Post, television’s CTV National News, and The Current on CBC Radio. It also reviewed the online edition of the French publication La Presse, along with Radio Canada’s Tout le monde en parle. The research reveals that public media outlets are leading private networks when it comes to achieving greater gender balance among interview subjects.
“The data show that women’s voices are missing even in professional categories like law and academia in which they’re particularly well-represented,” says Graydon. “The absence of their experience-informed perspectives denies us the benefit of their insights and undermines democracy.”
Since 2010, Informed Opinions has been working to bridge the gender gap in public discourse by motivating and training women experts to engage with media. In April the project will launch ExpertWomen.ca/FemmesExpertes.ca, a comprehensive online database making female experts more accessible.
Read the Executive Summary
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