Words by Petra Buchanan.
Sometimes I feel very little has changed since I first stepped into a newsroom 30 years ago. Although there has been progress, it’s too slow, and basic data points show us much more needs to be done to achieve gender equality.
In 2023, 50/50 should be our expectation, demonstrating equal representation of women. Half of the Australian population are women with almost the same percentage employed in the labour force, so how is it possible that women are still limited as authors, participants, and subjects in the media?
According to a new Women in Media study conducted by Isentia, men continue to dominate the Australian media, from the newsroom to the boardroom.
The Women in Media Gender Scorecard (https://bit.ly/WiMgenderscorecard) shows women are severely under-represented in terms of media coverage, and as both sources and experts in their field. It finds that women account for 43% of bylines written with men featured disproportionately as 70% of quoted sources and 66% of experts.
The research includes data collected in 2016 and 2022 and shows the trajectory to achieve media gender parity won’t occur for more than 10 years unless steps are taken to speed up change. A decade is far too long to wait for equal representation.
The research defines male-female parity as ‘100’ with any lesser number showing an under-representation of women in the media. With a ranking of 86, there is a 14-point gap today that needs to be closed before we can achieve true gender parity.
Pro-active effort needs to be made to ensure women are seen and heard in media, and are called on for their leadership and expertise, commenting on issues and sharing their opinions, contributions and reactions as a fair representation of Australian society.
Industry, organisations, the media, and individuals should ask themselves, are we doing enough? How do we step up and better represent women?
Industry and organisations can commit to develop female sources and experts as media representatives, while individuals can upskill and make themselves available as spokeswomen. The media can commit to increase female bylines equal to gender percentages of the population (50/50) and address gender imbalances in the most prolific areas of media coverage, such as sport.
For women to achieve parity in voice and representation, we need the media to focus on gender balance in news and reporting through inclusion and diversity in content development. We need to ensure that more female journalists are writing, producing, fronting and being technically involved in all aspects of the media. Women must be empowered as sources and experts in news and storytelling.
These efforts could go a long way to addressing the media gender gap that still exists today.
Petra Buchanan is a company director with an executive career in media, technology and business sectors. She is an advisor to Women in Media.