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Women’s representation and voice in media coverage of the coronavirus crisis

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This study find that female voices and expertise have been marginalised in media reporting of the coronavirus crisis.

The research is based on an analysis of 146,867 articles related to Covid-19 published between 1 March and 31 July.

The articles were drawn from 15 leading news sources across the UK, Australia and the US and analysed using big-data processing techniques.

Findings include:

  • Just 5% of well-known STEM experts mentioned were women, meaning that for every mention of a prominent female STEM expert in a news story about coronavirus, there were 19 mentions of their male counterparts.
  • Women made up 15% of well-known economists named, meaning that for every mention of a prominent female economist there were five mentions of prominent male economists.
  • Only a third of those quoted in articles about the pandemic were women, but with significant variation by type of coverage and topic.
  • When looking at coverage of specific topics linked to the coronavirus crisis, there was a clear divide in female voice between traditionally feminine and masculine issues. Women make up over half of those quoted in articles related to childcare and domestic violence, and more than a third in articles related to education – but fewer than one in six of those quoted in financial and economic coverage and a quarter in public health coverage.
  • For every mention of a female politician in an article about the coronavirus crisis, there were five mentions of a male politician. Even when references to the (male) national leaders of each country in the sample – Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Scott Morrison – were excluded, there were still four mentions of a male politician for every mention of a female one.