The news media in the world will reach gender equality in 70 years

23 Nov 2020

The media world is less gender equal than the “real world”. That is one of the conclusions from a research project at University of Gothenburg. A group of international scholars has analysed data from countries all over the world between 1995 and 2015 to explain the causes and consequences of women’s underrepresentation in the media.

The study compares the media world to society in general when it comes to gender equality. The results show that the news media often fail to reflect the actual progress and attainments for women in societies across the globe. Women politicians are, for example, underrepresented in the news in relation to their actual numbers. There are also large gaps in business journalism, in terms of covering the working life of women.

A new gender equality index
To keep track of and compare women’s status in the news in different countries, reliable data and monitoring instruments are required. The researchers behind the study have therefore developed a new and easy way to measure gender equality in news content. The new tool, the Gender Equality in the News Media Index (GEM-I), measures key aspects of gender equality in the news and is applicable to all forms of news media: television, radio, newspapers and online.

“The index measures women’s presence, roles and positions in the news and it is so user-friendly that any news organisation could use it and then compare with the global statistics we have compiled,” says Monika Djerf-Pierre, Professor in Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Gothenburg.

Yet, comparable gender-related data on the media are still lacking from several parts of the world, mainly from countries ranking the lowest in gender equality and media freedom.

Progress is slow
Gender equality in the news is increasing across the globe, but the progress is slow. Based on data from the analysed 20-year period, the GEM-I shows that the news media will not reach gender equality for another 70 years (from 2015). However, there are significant differences between countries and regions when it comes to the representation of women and men in the news media. The largest increase in gender equality in the news is seen in Latin America and the US, while countries in the Middle East and Asia have seen only marginal progress away from news dominated by men.

“The status of women in society – in the economy more than in politics – media freedom, and the share of women journalists in a country are determining factors for positive development”, says Monika Djerf-Pierre.

Download the book, or pre-order a print version, here:


More information:
Nordicom is a centre for Nordic media research, located at the University of Gothenburg.   

The project Comparing gender and media equality across the globe: A cross-national study of the qualities, causes and consequences of gender equality in and through the news media is based at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG), University of Gothenburg and is a cooperation between a Swedish group of researchers and several international partners, funded by the Swedish Research Council.

The book, with the same name, thoroughly describes the construction of the GEM-Index in the second chapter. The Index is included in the freely available GEM dataset, published alongside the book:


  • Monika Djerf-Pierre, Professor in Journalism, Media and Communication at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG), University of Gothenburg, Phone: +46 70 860 62 66, E-mail:
  • Maria Edström, Associate Professor in Journalism, Media and Communication at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG), University of Gothenburg, Phone: +46 70-370 48 79,
  • Mathias, Färdigh (Responsible for the GEM dataset), Senior lecturer in Journalism, Media and Communication at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG), University of Gothenburg, Phone: +46 70-300 01 85, E-mail:

International contacts

Full table of contents is found via the link to the book above.

The contact information for all the authors can be found at the end of the book Comparing Gender and Media Equality Across the Globe: A Cross-National Study of the Qualities, Causes, and Consequences of Gender Equality in and through the News Media.


Mia Jonsson Lindell
Communications Officer
Tel: +46 (0)76–618 66 22


Press images 

Monika Djerf-Pierre - Download high-resolution image in colour  (Photographer: Johan Wingborg)

Maria Edström - Download high-resolution image in colour (Photographer: Johan Wingborg)