A research project which monitors the gender of those in and reporting on the news claims women are "significantly underrepresented and misrepresented" in media coverage.

It also suggests that gender bias has been carried into online news, where it is "just as dismal as in the case of traditional news media".

The study 'Who Makes the News' was carried out by the Global Media Monitoring Project, researching coverage across 108 countries, monitoring more than 1,000 news outlets, 17,795 news stories and more than 38,000 news subjects.

The project, which is coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication and run on a five-year basis, did show an increase in the prevalence of female reporters compared to previous years within traditional media, rising to 37 per cent from 28 per cent when the study began 15 years ago. But the current figure represents no change from 2005.

Comparing media platforms, television was reported to have the highest percentage of female reporters, at 44 per cent, while newspapers have the lowest with 33 per cent.

In its research of the gender of news subjects 24 per cent were found to be female compared to 76 per cent of men, representing a three per cent increase in female subjects on 2005.

The study also compared the findings for traditional media and online journalism, concluding that online news "is a format in which gender biases become not only more visible but even more concentrated than in the traditional news media".

This is based on findings which suggest a slightly lower percentage of female news reporters responsible for researched stories online compared to traditional media, as well as a total of 40 per cent of stories being found to reinforce gender stereotypes.

The 2010 report also contains a plan of action for media professionals as part of its commitment to encourage "gender-ethical" news media. It's recommendations include the establishment of gender sensitive media codes of practice and the encouragement of gender and media modules within journalism and media courses.

Commenting on the findings the International Federation of Journalists called on trade unions to act on the issue of gender bias.

"Bias in the portrayal of women and men in news content has a detrimental impact on the public's perception of gender roles in society," the IFJ's general secretary Aidan White adds in the IFJ's report on the study.

"This report concludes that media around the world is failing to portray fairly more than a half of the world's population."

Other key findings from the GMMP report:
  • 46 per cent of news stories reinforced gender stereotypes;
  • 13 per cent of news stories focus centrally on women;
  • Women in occupations outside the home are not represented in proportion to their real presence;
  • Expert commentary is overwhelmingly male with only one female in every five experts;
  • Since the year 2000 the percentage of stories reported by women compared to those reported by men has increased in all major topics except 'science/health'.But stories by male reporters continue to exceed those by female reporters in all topics.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).