The Status of Women in the U.S. Media (2013)

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A report from

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Summary of Findings:

  • At its current pace, it will take until 2085 for women to reach parity with men in leadership roles in government/politics, business, entrepreneurship and nonprofits.
  • Only 17 women at media and technology companies are on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business.
  • By a nearly 3 to 1 margin, male front-page bylines at top newspapers outnumbered female bylines in coverage of the 2012 presidential election. Men were also far more likely to be quoted than women in newspapers, television and public radio. That’s also the case in coverage of abortion, birth control, Planned Parenthood and women’s rights.
  • On Sunday TV talk shows, one survey found that only 25 percent of guests were female. Another study found women comprised only 14 percent of those interviewed and 29 percent of roundtable guests. There was some overlap among the shows tracked in the two studies.
  • In both legacy and online news sites, women are too often relegated to writing about the “pink topics” of food, family, furniture and fashion.
  • Forty-seven percent of gamers are women, but 88 percent of video games developers are male.
  • Talk radio and sports talk radio hosts are overwhelmingly male.
  • As newspaper employment continues to tumble, so does the number of women in key jobs.
  • Newer, online-only news sites have fallen into the same rut as legacy media. Male bylines outnumbered female bylines at four of six sites reviewed.
  • The percentage of women who are television news directors edged up, reaching 30 percent for the first time. Overall employment of women in TV news remains flat.
  • The percentage of women employed as radio news directors is up, along with the overall percentage of female employees. Non-commercial stations and major markets with more than a million listeners led the way. In smaller markets, a radio news operation may be just one or two employees.
  • Obituaries about men far outnumber those of women in top national and regional newspapers.
  • Men write most newspaper op-eds; female voices are emerging in new media.
  • Women comprised just 9 percent of the directors of the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2012.
  • Women comprised 39 percent of documentary directors whose work appeared at major festivals in 2011-12.
  • In TV, women held 26 percent of the behind-the-scenes roles during the 2011-12 primetime season.
  • Across all behind-the-camera positions, females were most likely to be producers. However, as the prestige of the producing post increased, the percentage of female participation decreased.
  • Male directors outnumbered females 4 to 1 in a review of 3,100 episodes of primetime television across broadcast, basic cable and premium cable.