There are over 3.3 billion women living in the world today. Yet if you judge solely by the mainstream media you might conclude those 3.3 billion people are less intelligent, less articulate, less funny, have less to say about issues (even those directly affecting them) or perhaps only make up 5 to 30% of the population. Of course, none of that is true. What is true is that women have less opportunity to contribute to conversations, because they are less likely to own media, be asked for their opinion regardless of their qualifications, be published or be given the chance to tell their story.
At Women, Action and the Media (WAM!) we think that needs to change and we know how to make it happen. We are an independent, non-profit organization building a robust, effective, inclusive movement for gender justice in the media. We are also a strong, growing community of people engaged with media, learning and sharing capacity and skills needed to build a media ecosystem that represents the diversity of our lives and stories.
Why do we WAM!? Because power and privilege is about who gets to speak and who is listened to. Most of the time, it’s not women. Here are just a few numbers we’re out to change:
The 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project concluded “Women are grossly underrepresented in news coverage in contrast to men. The outcome of underrepresentation is an imbalanced picture of the world, one in which women are largely absent.” Their study found that only 24% of the news subjects were women. Women were also more than twice as likely to be portrayed as victims and three times as likely to be identified by family status (for example, as wife or mother). In contrast, men made up 80% of the cited experts and 81% of the spokespersons.
According to the 2011 VIDA Count, U.S intellectual and political magazines are dominated by male writers. The male-to- female ratio of the Atlantic is 2.5 to 1; the New Yorker, 2.5 to 1 and The Nation, 2.5 to 1. Female authors are getting less press-time as well, with reviews of male authors outnumbering reviews of female by 2 to 1 in the Atlantic over 4 to 1 in The Nation.
The 2010 Racial and Gender Report card of the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) gave the APSE newspapers and web sites a C+ for racial hiring practices and an F for gender hiring practices.
The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that women made up only 9% of the directors and 15% of the writers for the top 250 US films in 2012. This figure rose slightly to 29% and 21% respectively in independent film. Only 26% of those working behind the scenes on broadcast television programs were women. In 2013, only 19% of new TV show pilots on the major networks (ABC, CW, Fox, CBS, NBC) were created by women (The Hollywood Reporter).
Women are under-represented on screen as well, making up 33% of characters in the top 100 grossing films of 2011. The number of female protagonists has declined since 2002 to only 11% (It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World, Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television, 2011). Women are also less likely to be guests on TV shows, with the 2012 interviewee lists of The Daily Show and the Colbert Report in 2012 consisting of 73.3% and 71% men respectively. The Parents Television Council found that since 2004, there has been a 120% increase in depictions of violence against women on television.
Ladydrawers reports that women make up 39% of comic creators, but the top 12 comic publishers are six times more likely to employ men than women. Women also make less than a third of what men make, with trans and non-binary gender creators making substantially less even than that.
This trend in comics holds true throughout the art world. According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, although 50% of visual artists are women, only 5% of the art on display in US museums is by women. In 2012 the Guerilla Girls found that less than 4% of artists in the Modern Art section of the New York Met are women, but women made up 76% of the nudes.
Less than 1 in 100 of classical pieces performed in concert in 2009-2010 were written by a female composer (and 1 in 15 was written by Beethoven!). Women make up 2% of the standard repertoire of pieces (Repertoire Report 2009-2010).
In radio, women make up 19% of the news directors of the news, and 32.7% of the overall radio news workforce. Only three of the 38 talk show hosts with million-plus ratings are women (Women’s Media Center, 2013). This is accentuated in sports radio; not a single woman makes it into the top 50 most important sports talk show hosts in the US (as measured by Talkers).
Women account for only 11 percent of game designers, and a paltry 3% of programmers (Boston Globe, 2013). When working women earn on average $10,000 less a year (2012 Game Industry Salary Survey). On screen, only 3.5% of RPG, shooter and action games had exclusively female protagonists. These games also receive only half the marketing budget of games with male protagonists (EEDAR survey, 2012)