Bad News for Women
Although depressing, the unbalanced portrayal of women in the media is not surprising given the industry's male-dominated nature. Some news outlets have acknowledged their past failings, but there is still a long way to go until the media finally put sexist stereotypes to rest.
LONDON – Nancy Pelosi is the highest-ranking elected female politician in the history of the United States. Theresa May is only the second female British prime minister. Amal Clooney is a world-renowned human-rights lawyer. Serena Williams is arguably the greatest female athlete of all time.
All four are succeeding in environments where high-achieving women are the exception rather than the rule. Yet parts of the media have portrayed them in a way that suggests their achievements and abilities are secondary to their appearance, age, or association with other people, particularly the men in their lives.
Consider Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives. On the day she was elected to serve another term in the post, The New York Times published a tweet accompanying an image of her: “Nancy Pelosi, wearing a hot pink dress, ascended to the marble dais in the center of the House chamber to accept the wooden gavel.” The tweet was later deleted, with the Times calling it “poorly framed.” But it spoke volumes about the sexism, whether implied or overt, that still exists at the heart of the media industry.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one to read two commentaries for free? Log in