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Newsmaker? Odds are, it isn't a woman
By Li Xing (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-09 05:38

Women are not shown to be holding "half the sky" as they make up only a fifth, or 19 per cent, of newsmakers in leading national and local news media reports, according to a survey released over the weekend.

Men account for more than 90 per cent of newsmakers who are government officials or business leaders, according to the survey conducted by the Media Monitor for Women affiliated to the Capital Women Journalists Association.

The public hardly hear the voices and opinions of women, the survey revealed men dominate the news also as experts and representatives of public opinion by a margin of 9:1.

The ratio of women exceeded men only in such news categories as health, social services, childcare and performing arts.

The survey is part of the Third Global Media Monitoring Project, which is endorsed by the United Nations Development Fund for Women and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The previous two global surveys, conducted in 1995 and 2000, highlighted the persistent lack of women in news media, with female newsmakers accounting for 17 and 18 per cent respectively.

The full global results of the third round, in which more than 70 countries participated, will be made public on www.globalmediamonitoring.org on February 16.

In the latest survey, members of the Media Monitor for Women in China examined reports from 17 television and broadcast stations and eight newspapers on February 16, 2005.

"The results show that despite the percentage of women media workers rising steadily, news media in China urgently need to improve their own awareness of gender equality," said Cai Yiping, a leading co-ordinator of the survey.

The news media have yet to play a facilitating role in creating an environment where men and women enjoy equal access to politics, economic and natural resources and equal opportunities in employment, education and healthcare, among other things, Cai said.

In fact, the media have not effectively changed the stereotype that women are inferior to men and that their place is at home, said Liu Bohong, researcher and deputy director of the Chinese Women Studies Institute.

For instance, in her studies of advertising in the media over the years, Liu found that women appear mostly at home or in shopping malls or stores.

"Even when women are placed in workplaces, they do not actually work but are shown taking care of, for instance, their hair," Liu pointed out.

In contrast, men represent power and expertise in most commercial advertising, she said.

(China Daily 01/09/2006 page1)

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