Increasing the Female Perspective in News

September 17, 2021

According to the International Women’s Media Foundation, only 15 to 30% of the main experts or journalists featured in news headlines were women. If a female source was interviewed, their quotes were included in a final story, at most, a quarter of the time compared to their male counterparts.

In contrast, during and outside the pandemic, women typically consume more media than men. Last year in the United States, 54% of women vs. 40% of men evaluated their news consumption as higher than usual — most on television and social media.

The report offers 50 evidence-based recommendations for public relations pros and newsrooms to increase women’s voices in reporting. Below are a few highlights:

  • Highlight women experts in unemployment/jobs, healthcare and poverty, and gender-based crimes
  • Offer more micro-angles anchored in human interest stories for women
  • Increase female protagonists in traditionally male and female dominated topics areas, such as politics and education respectively;
  • Be mindful of how a topic, expert or story is framed that alienate the minority voices — such as from war frames (e.g., battle, fight, killer, merciless) that cater to societal misogynistic undertones;
  • Actively diversify outlet placements to include woman-friendly outlets in outreach.

In University Relations, the public relations team is a great resource for communicators and faculty to have a strategic conversation of how to be put forward as an expert and speak to media. The public relations office has two online tools — U of M Expert Alert and Talking with U of M — that allow faculty and staff to own and address timely topics in their field. The team also offers media training, per request, to assist faculty and staff in presenting and preparing themselves well for media interviews.

To learn more, contact University Public Relations at unews@umn.edu.