Sad lack of women in the media, study shows

WOMEN in the Cypriot media are “severely underrepresented” and “nearly invisible”, according to a recent report by the Mediterranean institute of Gender studies (MIGS)

The report, released yesterday, shows that women’s presence as subjects, reporters and presenters reached only 15 per cent compared to 85 per cent for men, reflecting a “vast gender gap” between the sexes.

Cypriot women have significantly below average exposure in the media than in the rest of the world, where 24 percent of news subjects (the people in the news) are female.

According to the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) which coordinated a survey 1,281 newspapers, television and radio stations in 108 countries, “News stories were twice as likely to reinforce gender stereotypes rather than challenging them and news stories on gender (in) equality were almost non-existent.”

In total the research covered 16,734 news items, 20,769 news personnel (announcers, presenters and reporters) and 35,543 total news subjects.

In Cyprus, MIGS monitored 157 news stories in the television, radio and print media. The survey included four television stations, five radio channels and three newspapers.

When it came to the women and men as news subjects, men were in the clear majority in Cyprus in all media. In television men were the subject of 88 per cent of stories, in radio 85 per cent and in newspapers 75 per cent

According to the reports analysis of the occupation/position of women and men who appeared in the news as news subjects, men were portrayed as having key positions that enjoy a high level of social status and public respect such as doctors, lawyers and politicians.

“Women news subjects were less likely to be described in terms of their occupation or position. Only their identity and family status were mentioned and, interestingly, this was the case only in those news stories reported by women.” it said.

In relation to the function of women and men as news subjects, the report said, “men dominate: Men are more likely to be portrayed as experts (87 per cent) spokespersons (95 per cent) as main subjects of the story (81 per cent) as sharing their experience (85 per cent), and as giving their opinion (85 per cent)”

As for the topics covered by men and women, the research shows men report more often on almost all the topics such as politics and government :57 per cent, economy : 58 per cent, social and legal: 58 per cent,  crime and violence: 58 per cent, celebrity, arts, media, sports (79 per cent).

Only on the topics of health and science do women report more often (59 per cent).

One likely explanation for the disparity in ratio of reporters is the ratio of overall employees in the media.  The MIGS report said “no equitable profile exists across gender” and that the majority of presenters in all the media monitored are men (60 per cent). Although women constitute 73 per cent of radio announcers, they are less represented on television with a presence of only 36 per cent.

At least one media organisation seems to have bucked this trend. The Cyprus Mail’s gender gap is almost exactly the opposite of that reported by MIGS; more than 73 per cent of the news production team, and 62 per cent of the organisation as a whole are women.