I am a woman in media and I am really proud of that. Despite the struggle to find my place and gain recognition in a male dominated industry. According to a report by the Women’s Media Center, this is typical, male reporters still account for 63 percent of bylines in the top 10 papers in America. This year individual winners of the Pulitzer Prize in journalism were all male with the exception of one, Inga Saffron of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The report goes on to say that women still don’t appear on-screen or hold sway behind the scenes in sufficient enough numbers. Of the women who do appear on-screen the majority were nude or partially nude. This is indicative of who is making the calls. Production company executives, predominantly male, choose directors, also predominantly male, those directors determine the stories being told and the actors who are telling them. This was the theme of a study titled, “Race/Ethnicity in 500 Popular Films: Is the Key to Diversifying Cinematic Content Held in the Hand of the Black Director?” released in October 2013.
“We know that what we see on-screen is in direct proportion to who’s calling the shots,” Annenberg professor, researcher and culture critic Stacy Smith, the study’s lead author, told the Women’s Media Center.
When industry leaders think about directors they tend to think male. This outlook limits women directors despite the gains made by female storytellers in 2013. Until we begin to conceive and perceive the directing role as gender neutral it will be difficult for women to move beyond independent film and into commercial arenas.
Study after study, with every new report, the status of women in all aspects of media, including journalism, film, broadcast, and even gaming and technology is grim. For example, women are almost half of video-game buyers, but we are still only a fraction of that multi-billion dollar industry’s developers.
Women are underrepresented in the technology industry over all. According to an article on PBS.org last year, “women make up just a quarter of the tech workforce in the United States and only 17 percent in Britain. In Africa, women form a majority of the population and half of the overall workforce yet they fill only about 15 percent of tech jobs.” According to many in the industry, public-image and a lack of understanding about computer engineering or sciences is part of the problem. Most young people, simply don’t come into contact with the industry in their daily lives.
So what can we do as media consumers to demand a more diverse landscape for women? The Women’s Media Center report suggests the following:
- Write letters to the editors and station managers, individually or collectively to voice your concerns about coverage and diversity in newsroom staffing
- Know the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules on broadcast media ownership and join the chorus of players who have been demanding more efforts to increase the low number of TV and radio stations owned by women
- Use your dollars to let the media powers-that-be know you can choose when and where to spend your cash and refuse to spend it until serious changes are made
You are not an idle consumer, you are a major player in the supply and demand chain, as a matter of fact, you make up 85% of consumer purchases over-all.
We also make up 71 percent of the audience on social networking sites, in fact 40 million more women visit Twitter than men. Among the nation’s roughly 130 million social media subscribers, women’s use outpaced men’s by almost 10 percent. The power is in our numbers and it is up to us to raise our voices and demand more and better representation throughout all media.
Many thanks to the Women’s Media Center and their extensive report for inspiring today’s post. What are your views on women in media? Do you feel appropriately represented? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.