Women now hold two of the most powerful political offices in America, they are 50 percent of the Presidential cabinet and 30 percent of Congress. They are leading the White House press office and are more visible as anchors on air and in newspaper bylines than ever before. Even so, their voices and perspectives are often overlooked and underreported. When it comes to gender equity in most arenas, and perhaps especially the news, there’s much more work to do.
The media is a powerful tool to help draw attention to the most important and pressing issues of our time. Unfortunately, despite progress in the representation of women and women of color in the media – especially following the #MeToo movement – they have a far from equal voice.
A recent study by McKinsey shows that women remain deeply underrepresented in leadership and senior levels across the media industry and women of color have particularly poor representation. Not surprisingly, this leads to a skew in news coverage and stories. Only 21 percent of news stories in the U.S. feature a female protagonist. Put another way, 82 percent of news stories in the U.S. are about men.
Women are more than half of the U.S. population and their perspectives, voices, experiences, and lives should be covered fully. For many of us working in and around media this has been a frustrating challenge for years. In my experience, many women-driven stories I pitched to TV and print outlets were shot down by male editors who just didn’t think they mattered. One television producer even said, “we’re not talking about women right now.” Unbelievable. This kind of casual sexism galvanized me to try and change things. And my experiences are hardly unique.
As a sign of just how challenging it has been to get female voices and female-centric news into the mainstream, last summer a group of women newspaper editors launched an all-female gender centric news platform called The 19th, precisely because they were frustrated by the male bias in news.
And yet, there is still a deficit of focus and attention given to women’s stories. That’s why Know Your Value’s Millennial Ambassador Daniela Pierre Bravo and I launched a new digital series called “Equal Value.”
We will highlight stories that have been underreported and dig deep on the issues and lives of all women. We will focus especially on women of color with respect and appreciation for their critical contributions.
I have spent most of my career thinking about and working to advance gender equity. I am the single mother of two African American daughters and I travel the country working with diverse women from every walk of life to help them develop and amplify their political power.
Daniela has written and spoken extensively about the issues impacting young women of color working to establish themselves and advance their careers. As a millennial Latina who was formerly undocumented, Daniela has lived experience we should all hear. Together we hope to bring new ideas, new voices and a more complete picture of the world around us, one where women have truly Equal Value.