fbpx
Blog post
June 24, 2019

More than a number

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

For International Women’s Day this year the call is to #pressforprogress. With the World Economic Forum releasing information that gender parity is still over 200 years away and an intense global spotlight on women through #metoo and #timesup there is pause for thought on how this information and data can drive change. However, the broad nature of global movements means that it can be easy to disconnect and not always understand the impact in your local environment.

One of the IWD calls to action is to forge positive visibility of women by identifying ways to make them more visible and select them as spokespeople and leaders. I work in communications measurement and media research, and we deal with data about organisations, media strategies and consumer behaviour on a daily basis. Our work is built on the idea that media representation and public opinion can be understood and changed.

I’ve been lucky enough to see a desire for change from the clients that I work with and to produce research that should be a driver for change. Some of the consistent findings across media in New Zealand are: Significantly lower volumes of women presented as a subject matter expert or commentator.

Significantly lower volumes of women presented as a subject matter expert or commentator

Women are described as having earned their position or success more often than men.

Female success is often contextualised by male failure. (This is particularly true in coverage of athletes).

Women are not shown in a diversity of roles, and are more likely to be positioned with their family, partners, coaches and other support people.

As a quick example, over the past 12 months 72% of all sources quoted in banking and financial coverage in New Zealand, were men. For the dairy industry, 82% were men. In the tertiary sector, which I thought would be a palate cleanser, only 33% of all sources were women.

As with anything involving communication, this is a two-way street with media. For some organisations we specifically examine how often they position women for comment, or are quoted in media releases and kits, and what the specific take up of that is compared to men.  So far, the data supports that a female spokesperson is more likely to be cut out of final copy. We have also found that there is a higher likelihood that journalists have a direct relationship with experts and commentators who are men. Women are more likely to have this relationship facilitated through a communications function or other support network.

Organisations are becoming more conscious of the impact that representation may have on their brand in the future. In the context of ethical and values-based consumerism, where the expectation on brands is to match with personal beliefs and authenticity, gender can play an important role. It may contribute to reputation in unexpected ways, including being an employer of choice. 

While some of these findings are challenging, the increased interest from organisations to understand how the representation of women affects their brand, is a positive step. We now have clients who are solely focused on improving their profile – not only by an increased presence of women – but openly celebrating gender diversity initiatives and how these initiatives are being reported on, and discussed online by potential employees or customers. 

If nothing else, I hope that this information allows for pause, and reflection on how we all contribute to the representation of women through our small choices, whether that be who is positioned to speak on a topic, or what language is used, and how much space is given. Representation is important. How often we see women, and how they are framed helps to shape our expectations. We can’t change what we don’t understand or can’t see clearly.

Ngaire Crawford is Head of Insights for Isentia in New Zealand. Her team of New Zealand-based analysts work across a broad range of clients measuring their communication strategies, and use media to help organisations understand their audiences and issues that are important to them.

This article originally appeared on StopPress NZ.

Share

Similar articles

Whitepaper
Isentia PH CASE STUDY – Pandemic Effect: How Netizens Intervened the Media to Counteract its Standards of Feminine Beauty

This study covers online discussions relating to a beauty advertisement called Pandemic Effect. It showed a woman’s physical transformation – including having dark under eyes, pimples, growing facial and body hair, and gaining weight amid the pandemic. It came under fire as netizens called it out for body shaming, being out of touch, and insensitive. […]

Whitepaper
Isentia VN CASE STUDY: COVID-19 and the “Big Test” for Retailers?

When the COVID-19 pandemic in Ho Chi Minh City has getting more and more complicated, the continuous social distancing directives by the Government have grown concerns among consumers, leading to panic shopping. This has been causing shortages of goods and price disturbances. Isentia, Asia-Pacific’s Award-Winning Media Intelligence and Insights platform, has looked into the most […]

Whitepaper
Isentia PH TRENDSPOTTING REPORT – Hitting the Mark: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics

This report will provide readers an understanding of the trending topics relating to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, mainly in the Philippines. Isentia’s award-winning Insights will delve into the top conversations, highly engaged posts, most mentioned athletes, sports events, and common themes, among others. Fill up the form below to download the whitepaper and read more.

Whitepaper
Isentia MY TRENDSPOTTING REPORT – Getting the Jab: An Update on COVID-19 Vaccination in Malaysia

Isentia, the leading Media Intelligence and Insights platform, has peered into understand Malaysians’ sentiment towards the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme in Malaysia on social media platforms and news sites in this whitepaper. Fill up the form below to download the whitepaper and read more.

Ready to get started?

Get in touch or request a demo.