ANYWAY, the BBC issued your standard blah blah we were unable to find female experts and yadayadayada after some
considered discussion online a few of us got together and The Women’s Room
was born. Yes I know the website needs a redesign 😬
Anyway this is a long preamble to saying that nearly ten years on, not much seems to have changed. In 2020, the Global Media Monitoring Project
reported that just 25% of news sources and subjects were women. That’s up 1% from 2010. A decade to increase women’s representation by 1%.
In fact, in some areas, female representation actually decreased. While the number of science and health news articles enjoyed a dramatic increase this year (thanks Covid!), this rise in prominence was accompanied by a 5 point fall in women’s presence in the stories. It’s almost as if when something comes to be seen as more important, women are crowded out of the field [cough computer science cough
So I was, let’s say, unsurprised to see an analysis of Nature‘s journalism over the past 15 years
, which found that men were quoted more than twice as often as women, which, I don’t need to remind GFPs, is “not consistent with what we know about the sex ratios of extant human populations [🤪] ” (IW
Nature’s publishing is also not consistent with what we know about the sex ratios of extant academic researchers:
The global science report by UNESCO
, the United Nations science and education organization, was published earlier this month and puts this at 33% in 2018. By comparison, Davidson and Greene [the authors of this paper] found that women made up around 20% of last-author and 25% of first-author positions on Nature
papers; the ratios are about 25% and 37% in a wider selection of papers in Springer Nature journals.
Still, it’s not all bad news. First of all, this analysis was itself reported in Nature, and good on them for that. They also pointed out that while the stats (69% of direct quotes from men) are bad, they are improving: that figure was 80% before 2017.
They are also proactively collecting their own diversity data, which as readers of Invisible Women will know, is one of the best ways to ensure change actually happens, (from shame if nothing else), and there has been progress here too:
last year, women comprised 58% of authors in Nature’s World View column — up from 35% in 2017, and from 18% in 2016. And, in 2020, women accounted for 34% of authors of News and Views articles — which explain and analyse new research — compared with 26% in 2017 and 12% in 2012
I’ll just end with a hilarious caveat to all this: the algorithm used to determine whether the authors were men or women IS ITSELF MALE BIASED BECAUSE OF COURSE IT IS.
in a sample of articles from 2005 to 2015, it assigned 78% of quoted speakers as male, but the true number, when the authors checked, was 75%.