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Category: Feminism, Education, International, Media

Progressive Girls’ Voices Blogger: Underrepresentation of Women in Media

| June 13, 2011

It's a well-known fact that there are more women in the world than men. Yet, when only looking at media sources this is completely unapparent. The lack of female representation in the media world would appear to an alien source to mean that women either don’t care or want to get involved in the current event and news of today, or that those that do are usually very beautiful and white. When represented through the media, it is usually a sexulization of the women, contorted to be more aesthetically pleasing for the eyes more than anything else. This not only takes away from her as a person being taken seriously, but also demines whatever she is saying or representing. If a woman is not seen as stereotypically attractive or appealing to the outside world, they are unlikely to be given a fair voice in the media world.

In many African countries, women are very poorly represented. On average, women constitute for only 32% of Africa’s talk show hosts, according to IWMF. In countries such as Lesotho, female hosts make up 62% with the highest representation. In countries such as Zimbabwe and Malawi, there are no female hosts. It is important to also note that the poorest education rates worldwide are also most apparent throughout areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa. With little education women are unable to gain any standing within the communities let alone their countries. The lack of female education means a lack of voice for a vital part of society. For so many regions of the world, the female population is the foundation of society and without giving these women an equally representation improvement is not possible. Giving women of the world a voice through media will also help facilitate this education and awareness. By hearing opinions and seeing faces of women like them, many females of the world will be driven and inspired to push themselves to lengths they did not before think possible. Many traditions and cultural roots of societies lead of an underrepresentation for women as they are given customary duties.

But this issue is not one specific to any particular part of the world. No matter if you have the best school enrolment or lowest crime rates, our world, as a whole needs to improve the representation of women. Even in world-leading countries such as the United States, 78.12% of all reporting by the APSE (Associate Press Sports Editors) is covered by white males. Personally, I know just as many girls, who for the record are from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, who all enjoy talking sports. Media, even sports media, doesn’t have to be a world dominated by men. Women make up only 16.4% of all American sports columnists yet more than 40% of all high-school and college level student athletes are girls. The problem is not a lack in interest. It’s a lack in representation. Women can be fairly represented through an education on how to get their voices heard. How to represent themselves on their terms expressing their own opinions.

Through the course of my blog posts I hope to explore different areas of the world in which social, cultural, economic, or political changes are affecting the representation of women equally in the media. I think that without understanding how widespread this problem is; the solution cannot be put into equal perspective. Representing women equally through media is a key way in which the stereotypes and gender restrictions can be broken.