Gender bias in America’s newsrooms



By Tim Skubick: Politics Columnist for

What was the old TV commercial line: You’ve come a long way baby?

The spot was referring, or course, to the progress women have made in this country. If you consider the fact that at one time they could not vote or own property, that is a long way.

But recent events underscore that women still have a long way to go on the bumpy road to equality.

CBS ran a piece the other night on research into deadly diseases and drugs to fight them and the takeaway from it was a real eye-opener.

Until just recently, most of the experiments were on male rats. Even female researchers, rather sheepishly admitted on camera, they never thought you might get different results if you also worked on female animals.

After all men and women are different, in case you haven’t noticed and when they started including both sexes, guess what, they got different results. Up until now they just took the male findings and automatically assumed they applied to their female counterparts.

Talk about your gender bias.

On a different front, turns out there’s been more talk than concrete progress in welcoming women into the newsroom.

It’s especially noticeable in sports coverage. A recent Women’s Media Center review reveals 90% of sports editors are male and white. There are only two women anchoring radio sports talk shows and that’s out of 183 shows now on the air.

Wandering into the newsroom women make up 36% of the staff, which has not budged much since 1999 and “minorities consistently comprise 12 to 13 percent of American newsrooms overall.”

And regarding the influential editorial pages, male pontificators outnumber women by a commanding 4 to 1 margin at three of the country’s most prestigious papers and four newspaper syndicates.

The only sign of progress is in radio news, where the number of females increased by 8 percent last year.

In other words when it comes to health and journalism, “baby” still has a long way to go.

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