A New Report from the Women’s Media Center

The Status of Women

The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2015
“It’s hard to think of anything except air, food and water that is more important than the media. … I’ve spent most of my life working in the media. That has made me hyperaware of how it creates for us the idea of normal, whether or not the normal is accurate. Especially for groups that have been on the periphery for whatever reason: If we can’t see it, we can’t be it.”
–Gloria Steinem, as quoted in The New York Times, September 27, 2014

The Women’s Media Center, co-founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan, issued its latest research findings. I’m going to quote some that I find particularly important to my point of view here on Old Ain’t Dead. There is a lot more to the study, which you can read in full. I included a couple of the infographics from the study. There are many more of those as well in the full report.

Selected points from the Executive Summary

  • Men accounted for roughly 74 percent of guests on major TV networks’ Sunday morning news shows. Women were 26 percent. None of the five major TV networks’ Sunday morning news shows had equal numbers of male and female guest analysts and journalists. Of the five, NBC’s “Meet the Press” had the most women experts, with females accounting for 29 percent of its 422 guests in 2014. Men were 71 percent on that program.
  • In the 200 films that raked in the most cash at the box office in 2012 and 2013 and all broadcast TV, cable TV and digital entertainment shows of the 2012-13 seasons, women were outnumbered by men 2 to 1 among film leads; 8 to 1 among film directors; about 4 to 1 among film writers; almost 2 to 1 among cable TV show leads; 2 to 1 among network TV reality show and other leads; almost 2 to 1 among cable reality and other leads; almost 2 to 1 among network leads; almost 2 to 1 among creators of broadcast shows; more than 2 to 1 among creators of cable shows; and more than 4 to 1 among the creators of digital platform and syndicated shows.
  • White film directors outnumbered those of color by 2 to 1; whites played the lead role in films more than twice as often as people of color did.
  • Between 1950 and 2013—when the Latino population grew roughly five-fold to comprise 17 percent of the U.S. population—the tally of Latinos with leading TV actor roles dropped from 3.9 percent to 0 percent and those with leading movie-acting roles dropped from 1.7 percent to 0 percent.
    Hollywood's latino problem infographic
  • Men accounted for 83 percent of directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors for the 250 most profitable films made in the United States in 2014. Women accounted for 17 percent, a 1 percentage point rise since 2013.
    The Diversity Problem in the Academy Awards infographic
  • Women television writers earned about 92 cents for every dollar that white male writers earned in 2012, a penny more than the 91 cents women earned in 2009.
  • In the 100 top grossing films of 2013, the number of films in which teenage girls were in hypersexual attire or had their flesh overly exposed dropped to 17.2 percent and 18.4 percent, respectively. That compares to 31.6 percent and 31 percent in 2012.

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