Women’s History Month Women in media still lacking representation

The representation of women in media continues to remain inequitably low despite that our nation’s demographics is practically split in two –with 51% of females and counting.

Melissa Harris-Perry women in media

Melissa V. Harris-Perry, Host, MSNBC’s ‘Melissa Harris-Perry’ at The Apollo Theater on January 18, 2015 in New York City. Credit: Shahar Azran via Getty Images.

A few days ago, progressive women  were outraged with the disguised firing of Melissa Harris-Perry after an email in which Harris-Perry protested her treatment by network leadership was released publicly on Feb. 26. MSNBC officially let her go, ending an impeccable era of diversity representation at the media group.

Media has become a feud of fewer voices repeating the same mediatic message, where diversity of opinion is even less abundant than gender, ethnic or racial diversity.

Although social media has made strides in the way we connect to information presently, traditional media continues to be the most powerful means to distribute information and ideas. Large parts of the population continue to trust in TV, radio and print media to access their information daily.

The message, however, is driven by very specific interests, not only in the “what is delivered” but also in the “who delivers it.” Not surprisingly, white males continue to dominate the scene in media. Here are some numbers provided by the Women’s Media Center:

  • By a nearly 3 to 1 margin, male front-page bylines at top newspapers outnumbered female bylines in coverage of the 2012 presidential election. Men were also far more likely to be quoted than women in newspapers, television and public radio.
  • On Sunday TV talk shows, women comprised only 14 percent of those interviewed and 29 percent of roundtable guests.
  • Talk radio and sports talk radio hosts are overwhelmingly male.
  • As newspaper employment continues to tumble, so does the number of women in key jobs.
  • Newer, online-only news sites have fallen into the same rut as legacy media. Male bylines outnumbered female bylines at four of six sites reviewed.
  • The percentage of women who are television news directors edged up, reaching 30 percent for the first time. Overall employment of women in TV news remains flat.
  • Obituaries about men far outnumber those of women in top national and regional newspapers.
  • Women comprised just 9 percent of the directors of the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2013.
  • Women comprised 39 percent of documentary directors whose work appeared at major festivals in 2012-13.
  • Across all behind-the-camera positions, females were most likely to be producers. However, as the prestige of the producing post increased, the percentage of female participation decreased.
  • Forty-seven percent of gamers are women, but 88 percent of video games developers are male

It is imperative that more women stand up to the challenge and claim their place at any media position. If you feel that your voice can make a difference, that the opportunity you have been waiting for has not yet presented, then this information is for you to take.

What is the Women’s Media Center offering?

Registration is now open nationwide for the Women’s Media Center’s Progressive Women’s Voices, the premier media and leadership training program for women in the country. Representing a range of expertise and diversity across race, class, geography, sexual preference, ability, and generation, participants receive advanced, comprehensive training and tools to position themselves as media spokeswomen in their fields, thereby changing the conversation on issues that fill headlines. Graduates join a network of alumnae who support each other in their media goals.

The training will take place on May 7 – 8 in San Francisco, California and June 4 – 5 in Denver, Colorado.

Application process for Women’s Voices

The Women’s Media Center seeks women who have something to say and are eager to dive into the media conversations on the important issues of the day. Are you the next Rachel Maddow? Do you want to become a political contributor who is called upon to serve as a strong progressive voice in the media?  Are you the media spokesperson for your organization and want to increase your impact? Apply for the WMC’s Progressive Women’s Voices program today! Criteria for selection include:

  • Identification as a progressive feminist who is a recognized communicator in your field
  • Demonstrated media savvy, political knowledge, ability to converse on multiple issues
  • Willingness and desire to promote yourself, engage in new media experiences, and reach media goals

WMC Progressive Women’s Voices starts with a highly competitive application process. Women who graduate from the program leave with a sophisticated understanding of the current media climate, what messages work best for different audiences, the most effective interview presentation and techniques.

Women representing diverse backgrounds, areas of expertise, professions, ethnicities, ages, geographical regions, and levels of experience are encouraged to apply (including those who have previously applied).

WMC’s PWV program is extremely competitive. Because of the high volume of quality applications, the Women’s Media Center cannot accept as many deserving women as we would like. Candidates who have previously applied will be rigorously and impartially considered.

The training is supported by the Women’s Media Center and is provided at no cost to those who are accepted.  Selected participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging.

How to apply

Please complete and submit this application form.  Deadline is midnight PST April 3.

(This information was extracted from the Women’s Media Center website. For additional information, please refer to the site.)


  • Award-winning journalist, author, multicultural expert, public speaker, small business advocate and the Editor-in-Chief of LatinasinBusiness.us. Susana is an Argentinean immigrant who started her own small business over 20 years ago. Now, through her new digital platform and social media channels, she advocates for the economic empowerment of Latinas in the United States.

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