Proportion of women in Latin American newsrooms grows significantly, study shows

By Lorenzo Holt

Despite low percentages of women in news reporting and presenting, Latin America has seen the most significant progress for gender equality in that field compared to other countries, according to a study of representation of women in the media around the world.

In 2000, 27 percent of reporters in newspapers, radio and television news were women. That rose to 41 percent in 2015, according to 2015 report from the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), which is organized by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) and supported by UN Women.

Additionally, the percentage of women in Latin America who were subjects or sources in newspaper, radio and television news increased from 16 percent in 1995 to 29 percent in 2015, according to the report.

This is the most significant development over the last 10 years. It is now the region with the highest proportion of female heads of government. It has a strong human rights activism, a vibrant feminist movement. When women are empowered, the stories change,” said Karin Achtelstetter, general secretary of World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), according to a news release.

Achtelstetter and other supporters of GMMP, including UN Women, presented the report at a news conference at the United Nations in late November.

In Latin America, women account for 47 percent of print reporters, 36 percent of radio reporters, and 50 percent of TV reporters, according to the study.

Forty-three percent of female reporters are between the ages of 19 and 34, while only 14 percent of male reporters were within that age group. Fifty-three percent of male reporters were between the ages of 35 and 49, while only 33 percent of female reporters were within that age group. According to the study, this proves that female reporters are valued more for their youth while male reporters are valued more for their experience.

The study also said that, in Latin America, women were the central subject of news stories 17 percent of the time. By story topic breakdown, women were the central subject in 20 percent of crime and violence stories, 16 percent of celebrity, art and sports stories and in 10 percent of politics, government and health stories.

Only six percent of the stories reported by both males and females had to do with gender equality themes; the majority of news stories reinforced gender stereotypes, according to the 2015 GMMP.

The study concluded that forms of alternative media can provide an opportunity for more gender-focused content.

Fifteen Latin American countries participated in this year’s study, two more than in 2010. Each participating country was assigned to monitor a number of its news media sources, and the results were then compared and adjusted to provide a holistic picture. The report distinguished between traditional and new media sources, although the statistics were similar.

The WACC began coordinating the GMMP in 1995 when volunteers from 71 countries first monitored the presence of women in regional radio, television and print news.


To see the full report, click here.

To see the regional report on Latin America, click here.


Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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