The report “Women and men in the news”, made on behalf of the Nordic Council of Minister, shows that in all the Nordic countries women are clearly underrepresented in the news media both as news subjects and as sources of information and opinion. Furthermore, women and men are often represented in gender stereotypical ways.
The media carry significant notions of cultural norms and values in the society and have a powerful role in constructing and reinforcing gendered images of women and men. The way men and women are represented in the media is therefore crucial for the development towards gender equality.
During the Finnish presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2016 the project Gender Equality and the Media was initiated, to explore how men and women are represented and presented in the media. The report Women and men in the news: Report on gender representation in Nordic news content and the Nordic media industry presents the results of the sub-project on news media.
Men dominates in all Nordic countries
The study findings clearly show that even though the Nordic countries have engaged in measures for achieving gender equality, Nordic news is far from gender equal.
The pattern of male dominance in the news and in news media organisations is strong, but there are also differences among the Nordic countries. The proportion of women in the news has been the highest in Sweden, where numbers from 2015 shows 31 percent. The same number for Finland and Norway is 27 percent, for Denmark 25 percent and the lowest is for Island, where only 18 percent of people heard and seen in the news are women.
Besides the fact that men outnumber women in the news, women and men are also represented in gender-stereotypical ways. For example, women are more likely to be identified by their family status and appear as news subjects and reporters in stories about science and health, whereas men often represent the voice of an authority and the role of an expert.
Men dominate all news categories, especially in news about the economy and politics. Finland had the highest share of female news subjects in news stories about the economy in 2015, but the share was only 30 percent. The share of female experts in the news was the highest in Denmark, but still only 32 percent.
However, in 2015 female news subjects were the majority in news stories on politics in Norway, and the news category with the most female news subjects in Iceland in 2015 was politics and government, which is different from the global and Nordic trends
About the report:
The report is based on three cross-national studies: "the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP)", "Women and Media Industries in Europe" and "the IWMF Global Report on the Status of Women". The report provide overviews on how women and men are represented in the news in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It also provide insights of the decision-making roles of women and men in the media industry in the Nordic countries and how some Nordic newsrooms, journalism education institutions and organisations have tackled the underrepresentation of women in the news.
The examples in chapter six have, among others, been collected from the book Making Change: Nordic exampes of working toward gender equality in the media, published by Nordicom in 2014. The book is a result of the project Nordic Gender and Media Forum, that brought together concerned parties in the Nordic media industries with a view to broadening and deepening the discussion of gender equality in the media and, more generally, the public sphere.
The periodic journal Nordicom-Information issue 2/2015, theme: Gender and Media (some articles in English)
MIA JONSSON LINDELL