SFU partners with Informed Opinions to create Gender Gap Tracker and measure gender equity in news sources

February 04, 2019

Informed Opinions, in partnership with Simon Fraser University, has developed a new tool to track in real time the number of women and men quoted in major news platforms in Canada. The Gender Gap Tracker powered by SFU uses the latest advances in big data analytics and text data mining to measure gender equity in news sources with the aim of drawing attention to and closing the persistent gap.

Online visitors can select date ranges and/or specific news outlets to see the percentage of men's voices versus women's voices quoted online and also view the aggregate average. Through SFU, the collected data is available to other researchers across the country.

Joy Johnson, SFU’s vice-president, research and international and Maite Taboada, SFU researcher, discuss the Gender Gap Track powered by SFU.

Given SFU’s decade of leadership in the field of big data and commitment to gender equality, the collaboration was a perfect fit for the university to utilize its advanced computing infrastructure for social scientists to develop the tool.

“Informed Opinions is an organization whose values are very much in line with SFU,” says Joy Johnson, SFU’s vice-president, research and international. “We are looking at ways to ensure that women’s voices are amplified in the media. The issues of equity and inclusion are of great concern to us, so there is a perfect marriage in terms of our interests.”

SFU professor Maite Taboada, Department of Linguistics, and her team played a vital role in the development of the Gender Gap Tracker.

The tool was developed by the university’s big data technical team, the Discourse Processing Lab, and is hosted by SFU’s Research Computing Group. SFU professor Maite Taboada, Department of Linguistics, and her research team played a significant role in the Gender Gap Tracker’s development.

“By using big data and computational linguistics techniques we can identify who is mentioned and quoted in news media, providing a very accurate gender breakdown,” says Taboada. “At the same time, it will also provide invaluable data for any researcher interested in news media.”

Shari Graydon, founder and catalyst, Informed Opinions.

Shari Graydon, Informed Opinions’ founder and catalyst, works to ensure women’s perspectives and priorities are equitably integrated into Canadian society. “As long as men’s voices outnumber women’s by a ratio of almost three to one, we’re missing critical insights,” says Graydon. “The Gender Gap Tracker is designed to encourage Canada’s most influential media outlets to work harder to equitably represent women’s perspectives.”

Informed Opinions Gender Gap Tracker powered by SFU.

SFU and Informed Opinions are partnering to use data for social good. Read the official news release here.

Become part of the conversation. See the ratio of female to male sources quoted in national news media: