Reporter films a gruop of women

Men dominate the news flow in the Nordic countries

NEWS | 30 November 2021

In Nordic media, only one-third of the news subjects are women, reports the Global Media Monitoring Project. Several Nordic country reports provide deepened analysis of gender equality per country.

Carried out every five years, the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) examines gender equality in the news media.

The global analysis of 114 countries was presented in August. Since then, Nordic researchers have looked deeper into the national findings, published in separate country analyses (links at the end of the article).

Continued unbalance – slight improvement in the Nordic region

Based on the monitoring of news throughout one day in September 2020, the results show that the skewed gender distribution in global news media stayed approximately at the same level as in the last survey: 25 per cent women compared with 75 per cent men.

In the Nordic countries, about every third news subject was a woman. But the proportion of women does show a slow progress over the years. In 2020, for the first time, all Nordic countries had over 30 per cent women in press, radio, and television combined, according to a Nordic comparison in the Swedish national report Räkna med kvinnor 2020.

Greenland has the highest proportion of women in media in the Nordics

The proportion of women in traditional media varies from 33 per cent in Finland and Norway to 41 per cent in Greenland. Thereby, all Nordic countries are above both the European and global averages of 28 and 25 per cent, respectively (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Women and men as news subjects in the Nordic countries, 2020

Stacked bar chart where Greenland has the highest proportion of women (41%) in the news flow in the Nordic countries. Sweden comes second, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Norway on a declining scale.
Comment: Data refer to news subjects, i.e., people who speak out or people who are subjects of the news. Included media are newspapers, radio and TV in the Nordic region in 2020. Number of people appearing in each country’s news media: Greenland 71, Sweden 627, Denmark 314, Iceland 108, Finland 368, and Norway 418.

The GMMP also measures the proportion of women in online news. In the Nordic countries, the proportion of women varies between 25 and 43 per cent (Norway 25%, Denmark 31%, Sweden 34%, Finland 35%, and Iceland 43%).

New index measures gender equality in the news

In order to measure gender equality in the media, researchers at the University of Gothenburg have created an index called the GEM Index (Gender Equality in the News Media Index), used in this year's GMMP report.

The index based on data from the GMMP spans between -100 and +100, where 0 indicates equal balance in terms of women and men's presence in the news.

Applied to the Nordics, the GEM Index shows quite some differences between the countries. A common thing, however, was that all the Nordic countries are on the minus side, but also closer to a balance than total male dominance in the news (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Gender equality in the news – Nordic countries in the GEM Index, 2020

Bar chart where Greenlandic media have the greatest gender balance in the Nordic countries, followed by Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland.
Comment: The GEM Index is based on the average of six GMMP indicators concerning women's and men's presence, topics and roles in the news. -100 indicates all men, +100 indicates all women and 0 indicates equal balance. Source: The graph is from the Swedish report Räkna med kvinnor (Edström & Jacobsson, Eds.)

The index is presented in the book Comparing Gender and Media Equality Across the Globe, available Open Access from Nordicom's website (more information at the end of the article).


Read more about the results

Read the global report


Read about more Nordic findings in the country reports

The national reports provide a more in-depth picture of gender equality in news content and in newsrooms, plus case studies describing how media handle gender equality issues in each country. Where available, the links lead to presentations on national university websites; otherwise they lead to the country link list on the global site.



Find out more: The GEM Index that measures gender equality in the media

Bokomslag Comparing Gender and Media Equality Across the Globe

The new GEM Index for measuring gender equality in the media has been created by researchers at JMG, University of Gothenburg. In the book Comparing Gender and Media Equality Across the Globe (2020), the authors describe how the index is constructed and how it can be used. They also describe the associated dataset that is freely available.