Women Are Being “Marginalised” In Reportage Of Coronavirus

An analysis of stories across six countries including the UK has revealed that most female experts are being left out in highly ranked coronavirus stories.

Female voices 'drowned out' in reporting on Covid-19, report finds
England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries/Picture credit: The Guardian

An analysis of stories across six countries including the UK has revealed that most female experts are being left out in highly ranked coronavirus stories.

In reportage of the global crisis, each woman`s voice is “drowned out” by at least three men, according to the analysis report. In five of the countries examined, women have been “locked out” of coronavirus decision making at a national level.

According to the report, commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation women`s voices have been “worryingly marginalised”. Countries which include the UK, US, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and India were used in the report to analyse top-level coronavirus stories.

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The composition of Boris Johnson`s daily C-19 meeting is 100% male, while the makeup of the US pandemic response team is 93% male. In South Africa, half of the response team were men, the report found.

A small percentage of experts quoted in top-level stories are women, while men make up a greater percentage in the news. The report found that only 19% of experts quoted were women compared to 77% of men, across the six countries. Less than 25% protagonists in stories analysed were women.

The report`s co-author and director of Addy Kassova Audience Strategy (AKAS), Luba Kassova, said: “There is a worrying marginalisation of women’s voices and an incredible bias towards men in terms of experts, expertise and story protagonists. We also found the gender equality dimension of stories to be less than 1%.”

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“It is partly to do with the ‘war framing’ of the crisis. The idea that this is an emergency and that men are better equipped to deal with it. Women are being pushed out.”

The Gates Foundation is yet to commission another report which will analyse the causes of underrepresentation of women in reportage.

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