Women in the News – the 2020 GMMP Report

The largest study of women’s representation in global news launches July 14.

Women in the News – the 2020 GMMP Report

On September 29, 1995, volunteers for the Global Media Monitoring Project in 71 countries spent the day watching TV, reading the paper and listening to the radio. They were monitoring how women were represented in the world’s news.

What they found was eye-opening. Women were the subject of only 16% of news stories. In the U.S., only 26% of women were interviewed as experts.

Since then, every five years the Global Media Monitoring Project spends one day monitoring the news to track the representation of women. This year, for the first time, the project included examining the roles of Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, racial groups and the elderly in the news.

United Methodist Women has taken an active part in the Global Media Monitoring Project since its beginning in 1995.

One-Day Study

The idea of a one-day study of women in news media came up during a conference on Women Empowering Media in Bangkok in 1994, sponsored by the World Association for Christian Communication. Media Watch Canada, a volunteer organization working to eliminate sexism in media, offered to coordinate monitoring the news. The results of the study were presented at the Women’s Non-Governmental Organizations’ Forum in Beijing in September of that year. 

25 years later, this year’s sixth GMMP report includes data from 116 country teams and examines 30,172 stories published in newspapers, broadcast on radio and television, and disseminated on news websites and via news tweets.

Progress

Preliminary statistics show that while progress is being made, the path to fair representation is a long one.

From 1995 to 2020, the largest strides toward parity have been made in radio, and television has replaced newspapers as the medium in which women appear most.

In the year 2015, when Twitter-monitoring was introduced, the presence of women on Twitter was fairly high at 40%; in 2020, it stands at 32%. Also on Twitter, news stories reported by women in 2020 is at 43%.

The report also highlights the underrepresentation of female experts in the media. In COVID-19-related stories, in politics and government globally 22% of women subjects appear as experts. In science and health, globally 26% of women subjects appear as experts.

The news media often exclude vulnerable women and marginalized groups. In Latin America, indigenous people make up only 1% of subjects and sources in television news stories despite representing 8% of the population. Globally, persons living with disability are referred to as such only 1% of the time.

The final Global Media Monitoring Report will be released July 14. The report will include:

  • A focus on Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and the elderly 
  • A case study of the Black Lives Matter movement
  • A gender analysis of the change in journalists’ roles
  • Projections for progress
  • The links between gender inequality and marginalized persons and what their lived experience is
  • Recommendations for achieving gender equality in media

“Once again, the Global Media Monitoring Project demonstrates the shocking invisibility of women in the world’s news. If some of these preliminary results bring rays of hope – a slight increase in women’s voices as subjects and sources in most media genres, a higher proportion of stories reported by women on television – overall they show that today’s ‘newsmakers’ are still overwhelmingly male. ...  Whose stories do the media tell? Whose do they ignore? Why is change so slow? With a perspective now spanning 25 years, the full report of this most recent GMMP will be eagerly anticipated.”
Margaret Gallagher, feminist scholar and GMMP pioneer

You can read the full report here.

Listen to the Faith Talks podcast on the Global Media Monitoring Project.

Posted or updated: 7/14/2021 12:00:00 AM