New research from the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia (WLIA) shows that women are significantly underrepresented as sources and experts in the Australian newsprint media, with female sources representing just 21 per cent of all commentary.
The Women for Media Report 2016 analysed over 6000 articles across six major print publications – The Australian Financial Review, The Australian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Herald Sun, and The Daily Telegraph – between 1 February to 21 February 2016.
The report was launched this evening at an event at Parliament House with The Hon. Philip Dalidakis, Victorian Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade. The event was co-hosted by WLIA and the Minister to promote the importance of gender balance in the media and on panels.
Key findings include:
- Women account for just 21 per cent of sources directly quoted in news articles
- The Australian Financial Review (AFR) (15 per cent) and The Australian (16 per cent) featured the lowest proportion of women directly quoted
- The Herald Sun (28 per cent) and The Daily Telegraph (30 per cent) featured the highest proportion of women directly quoted
- Women were least quoted in articles on business (13 per cent) and finance (14 per cent), whilst they were quoted most in articles on health (41 per cent), education (39 per cent), and social issues (39 per cent)
- Overall, female journalists quoted female sources in greater numbers than their male counterparts (27 per cent to 17 per cent, respectively)
- Male sources were most frequently quoted on topics relating to the ‘ASX’, ‘profits’, ‘China’, ‘tax reform’, and ‘investors’
- Female sources were most frequently quoted on topics relating to ‘children’, ‘China’, ‘foreign policy’, ‘murder’, and ‘Nauru’
- Overall 21 per cent of opinion editorials on politics were written by women. Of this, just five per cent were written by female ‘guest’ authors – those not employed as journalists or regular columnists by the publishing newspaper
WLIA’s Founding Chair, Carol Schwartz AM said, “There is no shortage of highly qualified women available to speak across all news topics. Our newspapers and media coverage should reflect the diversity of Australian society, its leaders and its consumers.”
“Not only is it more interesting to hear a diverse range of views but studies show that gender balance gets the best outcomes. Our public discourse is all the poorer for it when women’s voices aren’t heard,” said Schwartz.
WLIA’s Executive Director, Amy Mullins said: “Traditionally, men have often been seen as the ‘authority’ on topics in the media, particularly in business, finance and politics. Elevating women’s voices in the media will go a long way towards shifting traditional gender norms and expectations of what a leader looks like.”
“Women make up 50 per cent of the population and our news coverage should reflect that,” said Mullins.
“We have seen recent successes in the broadcast media with the Mornings with Jon Faine show on 774 ABC Melbourne achieving gender balance in its guests. They have shown that it can be done, but it needs to be seen as business-critical, with strategies put in place to achieve it,” said Mullins.”
“Gender balanced news coverage creates visible role models for both men and women to look to,” said Mullins.
- All publications featured relatively low levels of female representation in business news – female sources quoted in business articles ranged from 11 per cent in The Australian to 23 per cent in The Daily Telegraph
- Where a source’s position contained the words, ‘CEO’, ‘Founder’, ‘Executive Director’, or ‘Managing Director’, just 14 per cent were female
- Where a source’s position contained the words, ‘Analyst’, ‘Economist’ or ‘Strategist’, just nine per cent were female
About the Report
The Women for Media Report 2016 is an extensive analysis of the gender balance of sources and experts quoted in the Australian print media over a three-week period, from 1 February 2016 to 21 February 2016. The ‘opinion’ sections of the same publications were analysed over the full month of February 2016.
The Women for Media Report 2016 is unique in its breadth and depth of gender analysis for both news and opinion articles in the Australian newsprint media.
Over 6000 articles were analysed across six major Australian newsprint publications from February 2016 – The Australian Financial Review, The Australian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Herald Sun, and The Daily Telegraph.
The research encompasses all articles from the general news, business and related news, finance news, and ‘opinion’ sections of each newspaper. This excludes designated arts, lifestyle, entertainment, sport, and world sections, as well as magazines and lift-outs.
About Women for Media
Women for Media (www.womenformedia.com.au) is an online database and network of Australia’s top female leaders in business, finance, the not-for-profit sector and government. It provides journalists and conference organisers with direct access to the contacts of leaders available to speak, in order to reduce barriers to achieving gender diversity of sources and experts.