Speed Reads

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82 percent of people mentioned in the media are men

Does it sometimes seem like the only people quoted in the news are named James, John, Robert, Michael, William, or David? Where are the Marys, Patricias, Lindas, Barbaras, and Elizabeths, then? The answer is simple — they're not there. According to a study by McGill University, 82 percent of the names referenced by the media belong to men; in other words, a woman is only referenced once for every five times a man is.

"The media focuses nearly exclusively on individuals at the top of occupational and social hierarchies, who are mostly men: CEOs, politicians, movie directors, and the like," the lead author in the study, Eran Shor, told Science Daily. "And because these famous individuals account for most of those named in the news, there continues to be a big gap between mentions of men and women in the overall media coverage."

With unfortunate predictability, women were the least referenced in the sports sections — but they were also largely excluded from news, business, and even entertainment articles. Additionally, it didn't make a difference if the news outlet was liberal or conservative, or had female editors and staff writers: It seems that practically nobody anywhere is quoting women in equal numbers.

"Regardless of media, as long as men continue to monopolize the highest levels of occupational and social hierarchies, we are not likely to see a major shift in media coverage," Shor explained. "The resulting dominance of men as subjects of public and dinner-table conversation may reinforce and normalize in the minds of audiences the notion that power and newsworthiness are something men have and, apparently, deserve."