Women In Media Report Shows Just How Big The Gender Gap Is In News & Entertainment

You know it's hard to be a woman in America — as Jon Stewart so dearly reminded Caitlyn Jenner on The Daily Show Tuesday — and a breakdown of the media industry shows just how serious the gender gap is in today's workforce. Released by the Women's Media Center Wednesday, a new "women in media" report showed the industry has made little gains in improving gender diversity in the workplace. And as a woman who works in the media, even I'm stunned at these numbers.

In the report's foreword, WMC President Julie Burton stressed the importance of leveling the gender disparity in the media industry, whether it be the demographics of journalists breaking news or the types of Hollywood roles created and made available to women. The lack of female representation greatly limits the narrative offered by our country's media, and that's a fact that shouldn't be ignored.

Who tells the story is every bit as important as what the story is — and often the former determines the latter. The lack of women in decision-making and prominent positions in the media is the breeding ground for defamatory and sexist coverage and comments, and it lowers the standard of excellence by cutting in half the pool from which talent is chosen.
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If you want to read the whole report, you can check it out here. But if you want some takeaways, just think on these numbers a bit.

  • In 2014, only 37 percent of the news was generated by a woman, which means a woman was responsible for the byline, on-camera appearance, or producer credit. At The New York Times, just 33 percent of bylines belonged to women. For evening broadcast news, women are on camera 32 percent of the time.
  • Newspaper editorial boards on average are made up of seven men (usually white) and four women. Just 63 percent of newspapers had at least one woman among their top three editors in 2013.
  • Women are less likely to cover "hard news" topics such as politics, economics, science, crime, sports, and tech. Instead, women are more likely to report on education, religion, health, and lifestyle. With the upcoming 2016 presidential election — one that could produce the country's first female president — about two-thirds of the people reporting on it will be men.
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  • When it comes to film leads, men outnumber women 2 to 1. Just 12 percent of on-screen protagonists are women. Only 30 percent of female characters actually had speaking parts.
  • Women accounted for just 17 percent of directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors in 2014, a 1 percentage point increase from the previous year. Women TV writers earned 92 cents for every dollar made by white male writers in 2012.
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  • At three big tech giants — Facebook, Google, and Twitter — women make up 30 percent of the workforce. But when it comes to women with tech jobs, that number shrinks to an average 16 percent. Roughly 20 percent their executive teams are women.

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