Analysis of female represenation in US written online media

The Gender Gap extends into Media - Both in Front of and Behind the Scenes

Although women break gender stereotypes on a daily basis and step by step appropriate themselves to the world that was created by men, society remains to be full of preconceptions about how women (but to be fair also men) should be and what they should (not) do. Despite not being formulated outright anymore, these expectations remain and likely also influence subtly the ways women are depicted in the media. Although it is clear that we live in the era of social media, written media still allow for an important glimpse into the societies from which they emerge and thus are interesting objects to investigate societal stereotypes. 1

In this datastory we focus on gender representation in media outlets of the USA with the help of Quotebank, a comprehensive dataset that collected quotes from a large number of English-speaking online media. Thinking about women in media, the first thing that pops up is representation in media content, but there is another important aspect of female presence in media, namely the women working in media - those producing and deciding on media content. This aspect is actually better studied, since quantifiable, and shows that women are vastly underrepresented in the news landscape but still better off than in other industries. 2. If we look at the aforementioned media, we can see that women are vastly underrepresented in the news landscape but still more than in other industries. 3.

The simple question of whether equal gender representation has been achieved in the media landscape can easily (and without the need of any data science) be negated by simply looking at the world we live (see also 4 and 5). We envision to show a more fine-grained approach to the issue, going beyond the known anaylses of meta data of how many women are employed as journalists, editors, etc, but actually trying to extract what the female represtation in the media content itself looks like and how this may be influenced by some of the external factors metioned above.

Women in US Media - Investigation along the Political Axis

To be precise, we are investigating female media representation in the cultural context of the USA by selecting quotes obtained from the most influential US media. Both thanks to the vastness of data available for the US as well as due to the fact that the country exhibits a pronounced political polarization into two camps that often are presented to have opposing views on women’s rights and ideal roles 6, we set out to elucidate these questions looking into the quotes as well as their (political) provenance.

The DataStory begins …

In a first step we give an overview over the most consumed written media in the USA, considering thus the 147 highest-traffic media (check out here how we got that number): For representation behind the scenes, we investigate what the proportion of female editors in this subset of largest media outlets was and how this affeted the proportion of women being quoted. Then again, this is differentiated under the angle of the political spectrum to which the respective medium is attributed. So if you are interested in numbers, go here! As numbers are never to understand a societal phenonmenon, we subsequently dive into analyzing the topics for which women and men are quoted as well as the topics that thematize women and men. Again, this is scrutinized under the light of overall media represenation and the respective left-leaning and right-leaning samples of US media, so if you are intrigued by this, check out our Topic Analysis!

Meet the team

  • Nataša Krco
    Data Science
  • ...

    Patricia Brandl
  • ...

    Salome Püntener
  • ...

    Vladimir Fayt
    Energy Engineering