This report highlights the gap between the reality of women’s and men’s lives in Europe and how they are portrayed in the media. It proposes measures for the promotion of: balanced and non-stereotyped perspectives; equal opportunities and working conditions in the media sector; and increased participation in and access to expression and decision-making for women in and throughout the media. It calls for an in-depth study of the public image of women generated by the media, including advertising.
The media continue to depict public life as a male domain, even though more and more women play leading roles in society. For example, only 10 per cent of European politicians in the news are female, below the global average of 12 per cent, and often below the percentage of women politicians. In addition, video games use stereotypical and sexualised representations of women.
Although there are many women working in the media sector, they are under-represented in decision-making positions. The obstacles women face in the media profession are similar to those they encounter in the labour market more generally:
- Discrimination at the stage of recruitment, a pay gap averaging 18 per cent, more precarious conditions of employment and the existence of a glass ceiling.
- Female media professionals tend to be valued for their looks: the 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project found that women represent 79 per cent of presenters up to the age of 34. Their presence drops to just 7 per cent in the 50-64 age-bracket.
- Women are under-represented as reporters and are often assigned to local news, social issues, health and education. They make up only 19 per cent of experts and 18 per cent of spokespersons in the news.
In order to promote women’s equal participation in expression and decision-making in and through the media, the following steps need to be taken:
- Media companies should encourage and empower women to take senior positions, guarantee equal working conditions for men and women, create expert databases of women and achieve parity in expert panels.
- National gender equality policies should collect data on men and women in the media and finance studies on stereotypes in the media. They should promote civil society activities and improve public awareness of the gender impact of the media.
- Media and advertising federations should actively promote codes of ethics and a gender-sensitive vision among their members.
- Federations should promote awards for gender-sensitive advertisements and press articles among their members. They should promote awareness-raising campaigns aimed at children, students and citizens more broadly.
- The EU should establish a European Media Monitoring Group, encourage countries to implement current EU legislation and monitor its application. It should encourage training programmes on women’s rights, antidiscrimination and gender stereotypes for media professionals.