How gender-balanced is your content?

  • WIN launches today its online tool, the Gender Balance Tracker
  • The tool tracks four key indicators: prominence of women, women as main characters, women as authors and women as sources    
  • Media organisations, editors and journalists can use the tool for free to track the prominence of women’s voices and perspectives in the news

March 8, 2022 – On average, women make up one in four voices in the news across the world. They may constitute about half of the world’s population, but women’s voices and perspectives in the news remain underrepresented.

Research conducted by the World Association of News Publishers’ (WAN-IFRA) Women in News programme on women’s representation in the news over the past two years in Africa and the Arab Region found similar gaps. 

To help media organisations ensure better gender representation, today WIN launches the Gender Balance Tracker, a free online tool that tracks the prevalence and share of voice given to women in news articles. The tool is available here:  https://gendertracker.womeninnews.org/

Failing to publish stories that speak to women and their interests is bad for business. It risks perpetuating and reinforcing gender inequalities that alienate a critical segment of the audience.

The Gender Tracker, which currently tracks English content and will be available to track Arabic by the end of March, offers a variety of options. A journalist can quickly run a story through the tool for an immediate analysis on how well an article is doing on its mention of women, their presence as characters and their voice as sources. 

“A diversity of voices and views leads to greater creativity and higher quality content, which is critical in an era when the media is fighting to remain financially viable and culturally relevant,” says WIN Executive Director Melanie Walker.

The tool also allows individuals to sign up for a free account that provides a digital bank for reports that have been generated on stories tracked over time. This option additionally tracks the frequency of women’s bylines.

Studies have shown that a deliberate effort to increase women’s bylines in news content leads to more women featuring as subjects and sources. Women journalists also tend to cover a broader range of major news topics, as well as challenge gender stereotypes, raise issues around gender inequalities and track the progress of policies that address gender equality.

The tool complements the work WIN has been doing to drive equality in newsrooms across Africa, the Arab region and Southeast Asia over the past 11 years in partnership with more than 80 media organisations.

The organisation does this by offering training and a bouquet of advisory services that help to amplify women’s voices in the news and increase their leadership in newsrooms and in senior management.

A focus on gender equality is critical in the times we live in. Audiences no longer remain silent when they feel a news organisation is publishing sexist content – and they voice their anger publicly through social media.

To address gender balance gaps, organisations, editors and journalists can:

1. Train newsroom staff on gender bias and stereotypes to increase gender balance in news content

2. Create a style guide that makes staff aware of appropriate and inappropriate language when addressing gender issues

3. Report in ways that appeal to women, which includes running news items that are more personal, emotional and visual

4. Aim for gender balance in newsroom leadership, giving women an equal chance to influence the news agenda 

5. Consult audiences and find out how to tailor your content to meet their needs.

“Humans are hardwired to be biased. It takes conscious effort to recognise this bias and pro-actively work to overcome it. The first step is to understand the depth of the problem. The second is to take concrete action to be more inclusive. Together, we can #breakthebias,” says Walker.

WIN offers more insights on creating gender-balanced newsrooms on its microsite, which is available here:​​ ​​https://genderbalancecontent.womeninnews.org/

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