Politico’s got a good roundup today of the lack of women on the Sunday talk-show circuit, based on new data from American University showing that women made up just 13.4 percent of lawmaker appearances on the Sunday shows this year.
Thus far this year, the five major Sunday shows — including NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “Fox News Sunday,” CBS’s “Face the Nation,” ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union” — have had 148 appearances by congressional lawmakers. Of those, 128 were men and 20 were women.
Ouch. So naturally, the blame-game begins: Is it sexist bookers? Is it not enough women in Congress? Is it women being difficult? Researchers and press-secretaries have accused network bookers of a “men-in-suits” mindset, while the network producers say there aren’t enough women to book. And the women they do try to book, they say, are just so damn difficult to pin down! “I’ve probably asked her 25 times,” the female executive producer of “Meet the Press” says of Nancy Pelosi. “She is just unwilling to do it.”
As for the rest of ‘em…
Sen. Claire McCaskill goes home almost every weekend to Missouri, where family plans often take precedence over Sunday shows. Sen. Olympia Snowe tries to appear via satellite from her home in Bangor, Maine, but it’s a small media market with few studios. Pelosi, Feinstein and Boxer — all key women — live on the West Coast, which would mean that even if a remote shot were possible the taping would have to be early, putting them in the chair as early as 6 a.m. for some shows.
As Politico has written before, there aren’t enough women on Capitol Hill, for sure. But just so we don’t let the media get away squeaky clean, a quick Equality Myth rundown of exactly how shitty media of all formats is doing when it comes to showcasing women.
NEWSWEEK: In 1970, the year 46 women sued the company for gender discrimination, 25 percent of the magazine’s editorial masthead was female. As of March 16, that number was 39 percent—with an overall gender breakdown that’s roughly equal. To its credit, NEWSWEEK has looked critically at itself—in particular, with this story, published earlier this year. But, still: a mere six of NEWSWEEK’s 49 cover stories last year were written by women.
THE WASHINGTON POST: n 2008, an internal Post newsroom study of 1,200 Post stories found that women had been the focus of just 18 percent of them. The same analysis found that “men are quoted almost three times as often as women in the paper.” Last month, the paper sparked a minor blogosphere frenzy when various commentators noticed that, among the Post’s featured columnists on its websites, there were, well, a whole lotta middle-aged white men staring back from their headshots. (Also, there was this.)
NPR: In a piece earlier this year called “Where Are the Women?,” NPR’s ombudsman took to the Web to call out the organization for its painful lack of female commentators. NPR does well when it comes to female hosts—three of five of its major shows are hosted by women; the org has a female CEO and head of the news department. But when it comes to commentators and outside voices, it’s a different story. Of the station’s 104 shows between April 13, 2009 and Jan. 9, 2010, just 26 percent of the 3,379 voices paid to appear on air were women.
Late-Night TV: When David Letterman’s sex scandal was blasted across every paper in town, various outlets reported on the sobering reality that there was not a single female writer on “The Jay Leno Show,” Letterman or “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.” Conan’s obviously no longer on the air (and we happen to know that one woman was promoted to writer at Letterman shortly after the scandal) but, um, still.
Sources Overall: A recent report from the Global Media Monitoring Project found that worldwide, women make up only 24 percent of the people “interviewed, heard, seen or read about in mainstream broadcast and print news.”
Bylines overall: Meanwhile, no matter that women have been the majority of college journalism majors since 1977, female bylines at 11 of the top political and intellectual magazines, as assessed by the White House Project, are still outnumbered by whopping 7:1.
Media Power Overall: A 2007 study by Free Press found that while women comprised 51 percent of the U.S. population, they owned less than 6 percent of television stations and 8 percent of all full-power commercial broadcast radio stations.
(Ed’s Update: For the record, SheSource—a database of 500-plus women experts on virtually every topic, maintained by the Women’s Media Center—is a great resource for combating this reality. Check it out, we should have thought to include it earlier!)
Who are we forgetting?