On the occasion of Women's Day, the Reuters Institute published the report “Women and Leadership in the News Media 2023: Evidence from 12 markets,” which shows that only 22% of senior positions in the media analyzed are held by women. This figure drops considerably in the Latin American market, with only 5% in Mexico and 13% in Brazil.
The report also showed that the percentage of women in senior positions is lower than the percentage of women working as journalists.
"Our work complements relevant research that others have carried out on the situation of women in the media, and is based on our belief that it is key to constantly document how the industry addresses issues of diversity and inequality. The self-styled watchdog rarely watches itself," according to the report.
This work by the Reuters Institute to map the gender of senior management positions in the media in various markets began in 2020. The sample includes South Africa and Kenya in Africa; Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea in Asia; Finland, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom in Europe; and the United States, Mexico and Brazil in the Americas. This time, the research was conducted by Dr. Kirsten Eddy, Dr. Amy Ross Arguedas, Mitali Mukherjee, and Prof. Rasmus Kleis Nielsen.
The study also found no clear overall trend towards greater gender equality in top editorial positions between 2022 and 2023, nor in the years since 2020. For example, in Mexico, the percentage of women in senior media positions fell from 11% in 2022 to 5% in 2023.
In Brazil, on the other hand, there was an increase in the last year. It rose from 7% in 2022 to 13% in 2023. However, before the pandemic, 22% of senior media positions in Brazil were held by women.
The report also compared gender equality, as measured by the United Nations (UN) index, versus the percentage of female directors in media, and did not find a positive correlation in several of the countries. Brazil and Mexico are among the countries with the lowest correlations between the two variables.
"We have found no general trend towards greater gender parity in senior positions, despite constant critical scrutiny of the lack of diversity in the sector, and recognition of how poorly journalism and the media often reflect the societies they cover in terms of the profile of their staff (especially at senior levels)," the report states.
According to the text, some of the reasons for the disparity are that the media believe that the sector is already where it should be in terms of diversity. On the other hand, "the media in practice direct their scarce resources towards other issues that they consider more important or more urgent."
This study also shows that Latin America has the lowest percentages of online news users who consume information from at least one media outlet led by a woman. While Brazil stands at 27% and Mexico at 18%, countries such as Kenya and Finland exceed 70%.
"Less than half of online news users have consumed information from at least one media outlet led by a woman. The average is 48%. This figure has remained virtually unchanged since we began the work in 2020, when it showed 49% among 10 markets," the report states.
According to the researchers, there has been no evidence of an evolution of gender equality in management positions of the media around the world, despite the efforts of various institutions, nor have substantial changes been found in the years they have been collecting data.