The CMPF stresses the urgency of tackling underrepresentation of women in the media

Florence, 8 March 2023 – To mark International Women’s Day, the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom calls for more vigorous action to improve the representation of women in the media sector.

Research shows that access to leadership roles remains limited for women. This perpetuates gender biases and stereotypes through the stories that are chosen to be told, the language that is used, and the way that women are portrayed.

Striving towards gender balance in media leadership and ownership positions is critical to enable media to effectively pursue the public interest. This is why our main research project, the Media Pluralism Monitor, devotes a whole chapter to the issue of representation (or lack thereof) of women.

Lack of representation is a risk for media pluralism

To assess the extent to which European media fail to be inclusive of diverse voices, our yearly Media Pluralism Monitor report sets out to measure risks in the area of Social Inclusiveness.

The five indicators used to measure such risks are Representation of minorities in the media; Local, regional and community media; Gender equality in the media; Media literacy; and Protection against disinformation and hate speech. In particular, the indicator of Gender equality in the media evaluates the
availability, comprehensiveness and implementation of gender equality policies in public service media, as well as the proportion of women at the management level and their representation in political and news content.

Despite a slight improvement in comparison with the previous monitoring rounds, the findings are still dispiriting. In 2023, the indicator of Gender equality in the media remains in the upper fringe of the medium-score risk band for all European countries.

It is also noteworthy that half of the countries studied (European Member States, Albania, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey) lack a comprehensive gender policy in the public service media. In the absence of such policy, women are still under-represented in news representation but also in news production, especially in management positions.

Monitoring gender representation in the news is key to understanding the extent of the issue

In terms of equal representation of gender in the media, there is a dire need for more data to better portray the extent of the issue.

Very few countries collect data regarding gender representation in the media. A constant and regular quantitative and qualitative monitoring of gender representation in the news is necessary to reach gender equality in the media.

Having more women in news production, and especially in leadership positions, would lead to a more inclusive, diverse, and successful industry that can effectively pursue public interest and fulfil its crucial role as the watchdog of democracy.

Therefore, governments need to uphold their commitments to improving gender balance.