Gender Balance in News
Open Gender Tracking Project is a software program that collects digital content from news sources and analyzes gender balance within news organizations. The project was created by Irene Ros and Adam Hyland of Bocoup and Nathan Matias of the MIT Center for Civic Media.
The program collects data on who is writing the articles and who the articles are written about. It also measures audience response data directly associated with specific articles (like how many times a post is shared in social media). The goal of the program is to make news sources aware of content diversity (or lack thereof) so organizations can work toward maintaining a balanced set of voices.
For the most part, women are currently being underrepresented in digital media.
In the UK, newspaper front pages rarely include women, and women write a minority of articles. Women are prominent at the Daily Mail, where they write most of the celebrity news, fewer news articles, and almost no sport. Even when publications do include women, they’re often at the mercy of their audiences. 20% of Telegraph opinion articles are written by women, but women’s opinion articles attract only 14% of the Telegraph’s shares and likes on social media.
And according to studies done by the Women’s Media Center, in both legacy and newer news sites, women are too often relegated to writing about “pink topics” like fashion, relationships, and food, rather than urgent and/or international issues.
On a positive note, Global Voices, an international citizen media news site, is one of the only news organizations currently known to have equal gender participation. According to The Guardian, 764 women wrote 51% of all articles from 2005-2012.
Related: Gender balance is the new rage. I just wish somebody had spread the word to the Wikiverse: Wikipedia Bumps Women From ‘American Novelists’ Category. — Krissy
Image: Screenshot of graph from Open Gender Tracker
And I am not advising younger women (or any woman) to tough it out. You can lash back, which I have done too often and which has rarely served me well. You can quit and look for other jobs, which is sometimes a very good idea. But the prejudice will follow you. What will save you is tacking into the love of the work, into the desire that brought you there in the first place. This creates a suspension of time, opens a spacious room of your own in which you can walk around and consider your response. Staring prejudice in the face imposes a cruel discipline: to structure your anger, to achieve a certain dignity, an angry dignity.
If you’re interviewing people for your job, and you haven’t interviewed a woman, don’t hire until you’ve at least interviewed one woman. And if your recruiter can’t get you resumes that are diverse, find another recruiter,
Sarah Allen, computer programmer and founder of Blazing Cloud, challenges those who argue that it is difficult to find female programmers.
Allen runs free workshops on Ruby on Rails for women, offering the trainings on weekends and providing childcare. She has worked to create an environment where women feel welcome and notes, “Every single workshop we’ve ever held has had a waiting list.”
Read more about Allen’s programming career and her work to diversify the field: Blazing The Trail For Female Programmers : All Tech Considered : NPR. This is part of NPR’s special series The Changing Lives of Women.
Looking for more workshops? Check out Code With Me, a coding workshop which was co-founded by female programmer Sisi Wei.
In working with women in open source, the Ada Initiative found that many women are reluctant to post their code publicly when they are first getting started in open source software. This reluctance has good reasons behind it: fear of being told they are bad programmers, fear of being publicly mocked or harassed, and even fear of losing job opportunities. All of these are greater risks for women on average than men. But the best way to get better at programming is to collaborate with and get review from other programmers, which is far easier to do with a shared repository like those provided by GitHub. Unfortunately, private repositories are too expensive for most women just getting started in open source software.
We went to GitHub with our dilemma, and they immediately offered us unlimited free repositories on the Ada Initiative GitHub account.
It’s not like someone specifically says, ‘You’re not welcome here anymore.’ It’s just a constant, subtle attitude that makes you feel like you don’t want to be there anymore. And that made me really mad, too, that the idea that someone could take something that I thought would be great, and sort of take it away from me and say, ‘Yeah, this isn’t for you. You’re not welcome here.’
Congrats to the many friends of ONA who made this great list of female innovators, including ONA NYC’s Liz Heron, 2012 MJ Bear Fellow Laura Amico, ONA Chicago’s Miranda Mulligan, former ONA Board member Cory Haik, longtime volunteer Chrys Wu and many other inspiring women.
VIDA Women in Literary Arts has released their annual count of women’s bylines. The New Yorker is just one of many publications that they surveyed that continued to show a preference for men’s bylines.
VIDA’s website has charts on the byline breakdown on a number of publications, including The Atlantic, The New Republic, Harper’s, Boston Review and more.