The news media, like many professions, is male-dominated. Only two women, Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric, have ever been full-time weekday solo anchors. When they departed, their networks hired men to take their spots. This points to an alarming dearth of female anchors, and a need for better representation of women in the media.
Women make up roughly half of the world’s population, but their presence in the media is staggeringly poor. In 2014, according to research by the Women’s Media Center, 62.1% of news was generated by men. Likewise, men made up 69.2% of all TV news directors and women only 30.8%, a mere 2% increase from their representation the previous year.
The media landscape is particularly bleak for women of color. Of all television general managers in the news, 93% were white. In this role, the presence of minorities actually decreased from 2013 to 2014.
Why It Matters
The media is an integral part of society: it disseminates news, educates its consumers, and has the ability to encourage social change or affect policymaking. Given the power of the media, female representation in newscasting is imperative.
The news does not exist in a vacuum. When the primary voices being heard are those of white men, we miss out on a broader scope of ideas and perspectives. Our understanding of current events, political issues, and the state of the world will be shaped by the interpretation of a single demographic group.
Consider the media’s treatment of Hillary Clinton during her past presidential campaigns. During her 2008 run, discussions of Clinton in the news included scrutiny of her appearance that male candidates were not subjected to, and labels like “feisty” or “ambitious” that men never received. In 2016, Clinton was interrupted, challenged, and questioned more aggressively than Donald Trump was.
Consider, too, how the male majority of news anchors will discuss the new health care bill, which severely limits reproductive rights. Whether these men support or criticize the bill, the debate lacks input from those which it affects most directly: women themselves.
Women have the right to be seen and heard on news broadcasts. The fight for female broadcasters serves the greater perspective of the public as a whole and speaks to the true meaning of feminism: equality in all things, regardless of gender, sex, or personal identification.