From Iceland — Report Finds Women's Role In News Stagnating Globally, Diminishing In Iceland

Report Finds Women’s Role In News Stagnating Globally, Diminishing In Iceland

Published November 24, 2015

Gabríel Benjamin
Photo by
Women's Suffrage/Wikimedia Commons

The Global Media Monitoring Project‘s latest report shows that women’s role in news has stagnated from 2010, and that women in Iceland have diminishing participation in news both as reporters and subjects.

The GMMP releases reports every five years measuring the gender ratios of reporters and subjects in news over various platforms. The survey is done on the same day in all participating countries, and evaluated using the same tools.

The latest report, released yesterday (PDF), shows that worldwide women make up 24% of people in television, newspaper and radio, which is identical to the findings from 2010. In Iceland, however, that figure is 24.5% today, compared to 27% in 2010.

The report shows Iceland lags behind the other Nordic countries, with Denmark at 28.5%, Finland at 36.5%, Norway at 31%, and Sweden at 33%.

In an interview this summer, Valgerður Anna Jóhannsdóttir, the person responsible for Iceland’s contribution to the GMMP, mentioned a few theories that could explain these low numbers, but said that they did not excuse them. The survey was conducted on the same day in March that the Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz crashed a plane into the Alps, so news outlets all over the world were busy interviewing airline CEOs, air-traffic controllers, and pilots, most of whom are male. And locally, labour and wage disputes made a lot of headlines in March, which meant union leaders, most of whom are male, were heavily represented.

“It’s obviously not the case that women aren’t doing newsworthy things,” she said. “Instead, there’s something about how reporters work that makes them reach out to men rather than women.”

In the report’s foreword, Margaret Gallagher, who devised the original methodology of the organisation, shared her disappointment with the results.

The findings presented in this 2015 GMMP report are troubling. Although in the decade 1995 to 2005 there was a slow but steady increase in women’s visibility in the news, the decade 2005 to 2015 has been one of stagnation. At 24% of the total, there has been no change in women’s share of news-making roles in the traditional media (newspapers, radio, television) since 2010, and indeed almost none since 2005 when women were 23% of newsmakers. The new digital media (Internet and Twitter news) offer little comfort. Here too, women were only 26% of people in the news in 2015. Across all media, women were the central focus of just 10% of news stories – exactly the same figure as in 2000. Since 2005 the percentage of stories reported by women has been static at 37%, and there has been almost no movement in the proportion of news that challenges gender stereotypes – just 4% of the total in 2015.

This year 114 countries participated in the GMMP’s report.

See Also:

Valgerður Anna Jóhannsdóttir by Hörður SveinssonBinders, Not Papers, Full Of Women
Back in the first quarter of 2001, Iceland’s Ministry of Education released an extensive report on women in media. Through wide-ranging surveys that examined a whole week of TV broadcasts and printed media, the report detailed how women were seen and heard much less than men, only appearing in 30% of primetime broadcasts, and only speaking in 15% of them. Fourteen years later, little has changed, according to an upcoming international report.

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