Who is Quoted in the Media

August 19, 2021

Written by: Alicen Ricard

It is 2021 and women in STEM still aren’t represented in the media as much as men are. Journalists don’t quote women as much as they quote men and that is something that needs to change. They are trying though. Journalists are trying to actively pay more attention to who they quote and they’re trying to make it more diverse. Informed Opinions, an organization that amplifies the voices of women and gender-diverse individuals for a more democratic Canada, has launched a campaign called #DiversifyYourSources to encourage journalists to pay attention to who they are quoting and make sure women are quoted as often as men are. They have even created a spreadsheet that lets you track your sources. The campaign doesn’t require that it’s a 50:50 split between women and men, but instead to gain awareness that this is a problem and try to close the gap. 

Bloomberg and The Atlantic have already committed to this and are trying to reach a 50:50 split between men and women. None of this takes into account non-binary sources, but it is a small step in the right direction. The BBC has also been committed to this challenge. 

Aside from women not being quoted as much in the media being a gender equity problem, it can also be an engagement problem. The more women are quoted and represented, the more other women will be engaged with the media. Having more female sources has been proven to increase audience engagement. Informed Opinions states that, “When organizations draw on the talents of women, they make more informed decisions, better serve their customers and are ultimately more profitable.” 

Informed Opinions did a breakdown of female vs. male contributors in a couple newspapers and it’s pretty concerning. However they are on an upward trend of getting more women as contributors.

Source: Informed Opinions
Source: Informed Opinions

They also did a breakdown of female vs. male columnists, which is also discouraging. There is a downward trend from 2013 to 2019. When talking to Scott Colby at the Toronto Star, he said that more men than women submit articles. Despite that, they are doing better than some other newspapers at having women columnists.

It’s not just in articles and magazines that we need more women. Movies and TV are still more male centric as well. Women led films are gaining in popularity and in 2018 women led films earned more money than the male-led films. There's a long way to go with positive depictions of women in media as well, and we examine this in our Media Depictions of Women in STEM series.

Check out Shari Graydon, the founder of Informed Opinions on her her Best of the WWEST episode here and her talk at the President's Dream Colloquium here.