Journalists have a major part to play in covering women in news

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As the most visible component of the issue of gender inequality, journalists have a responsibility to seek out women’s perspectives on the stories they write. While they can’t be charged with solving this issue by themselves, they can stop being a part of the problem.

In an article from the New York Times, writers Amanda Taub and Max Fisher detail the unique problem of women being underrepresented in news coverage. In their piece, they argue this dilemma deepens gender biases in who gets to be considered an authority on a given subject.

Choosing to use male experts in news coverage is something so common it seems like a natural choice. Even though it’s not a conscious move on the part of writers, news outlets aren’t absolved of a responsibility to work against that ingrained bias towards male authority. We need to make more active choices in who we seek out to quote. 

The impact that increased female representation has can’t be overstated. When women are depicted as authorities on subjects, they’re given a symbolic power. Using quotations from women in news stories communicates to the public that women’s thoughts and opinions are respected. Even more so, it shows young women and girls that they too can become valued experts in their chosen field. Representation matters. When women see themselves reflected in news coverage, it’s a powerful thing.

While it may be more difficult for reporters to find female experts to quote in coverage of any given news topic, it’s not impossible. Female experts exist in every imaginable field and journalists can include their perspectives and expertise if they take the time to do so. Quoting female experts needs to be made a priority in news coverage from both individual journalists and larger news outlets.

Equating maleness with expertise isn’t something we need to accept anymore. There are women in every field who deserve the same recognition as their male peers. As journalists, we are in a position to give it to them.

 

— Journal Editorial Board

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