Women are half the population, one-quarter of newsmakers

Jocelyne Lloyd
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Public presentation Tuesday to explore the topic of women in the media and female leadership

Jane Ledwell, executive director of the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women, scanned local news and editorial content in 51 issues of The Guardian to see how women are represented in P.E.I. media. She presents her findings 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13 at the Confederation Centre Public Library.

Jane Ledwell pored through 51 issues of The Guardian, reading 1,539 articles in the local news and opinion pages, looking for a woman.

She found one less than 30 per cent of the time.

Ledwell, who is the executive director of the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women as well as a member of the P.E.I. Coalition for Women in Government, was looking to see how the number of women appearing in news stories compared with the number of women in political office.

The numbers were nearly the same.

“There’s a link between women in government and women in the news because we know that there has to be name recognition in order to be nominated and to be elected,” Ledwell said during an interview at her PEIACSW office this week.

“We have to look at those links, as well as other factors, if we want women in leadership roles and to have a legislature that represents and reflects the true diversity of the population.”

In the papers Ledwell scanned — she chose issues from April (when legislature was sitting) and August (when the house was closed) — women made up 28.4 per cent of mentions in local news and editorials. They made up 21.2 per cent of political figures mentioned.

“It shows that women are under-represented and that’s not due to one factor. It’s due to entire systems of how we have valued news; how we have valued the work that women tend to do versus the work that men tend to do; how we have structured our political systems and who they included and how they exclude,” Ledwell said. “There are a lot of factors.”

In the articles Ledwell scanned, men were much more likely than their female counterparts to be named as CEOS, managers, judges, lawyers, experts or government officials.

“Men are not only mentioned more often: they’re mentioned in more categories, in more roles, more days,” said Ledwell. “It’s more frequent, more diverse and more consistent, as well, that (men) are described .. as (having) leadership roles.”

Ledwell chose The Guardian for her study because it’s a static medium that’s easy to refer back to. But she said she’d expect the numbers to bear out no matter which P.E.I. media she looked at.

“I think that the media really is reflecting society,” she said. “And I think that the media in P.E.I. does a good job of reflecting attitudes, beliefs, of reporting what we value as news and opinion.”

She’s hoping her findings spur discussion on how those values can better represent a population that’s half female.

Ledwell will lead a presentation on the topic of women in the news and women’s leadership at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Confederation Centre Public Library. The public is welcome to share ideas and see the research in a visual, interactive session.



Organizations: The Guardian, P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women, P.E.I. Coalition for Women

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • We already know this
    November 11, 2012 - 17:21

    We know how women are oppressed, especially on PEI. Look at the old Tory backward/backroom boys club and their attempt at backstabbing and removing their female leader last week. Women are harmed and have their rights violated constantly on PEI. Human rights violations all the time and known!! Not a thing done to help any woman here! Use the money to help them!!! We do not need studies to back what is already known and evident in everyday society here on the Island!! Try some positive action towards HELPING or SUPPORTING oppressed, abused, silenced, harassed, violated, suppressed women! Now there is a novel idea (not to be studied)!

  • voter
    November 11, 2012 - 07:52

    WOMEN !!-be careful what you wish for -------------the men and women in my life often carried out the very inportant roles -------------some very private and cherished while some actions were only worthy of making the local news rag

  • amanda
    November 10, 2012 - 16:18

    What? Do we pay the salary of this 'researcher' ? Whatever for? Who cares about such nonsens, when we are facing the HST and higher fees for everything, --- stop wasting our money and get rid of this kind of 'service'. High time government cut out grants to everything but absolute nessecities. I have no time for people, men or women, who make their living complaining and sceaming about one thing or the other, - get A REAL JOB FOR PETE'S SAKE

  • Our voice counts, it's time to count our voices
    November 10, 2012 - 09:26

    Women are often the ones who have the courage to face up to repression. If not for women's courage, what would society look like? We all need representation; we don't need to be daddied. Awkward as it is, maybe it's time to show this government Islanders want better governance? Given the repressive culture of patronage Island governments have fostered, it takes a lot of courage to show our feelings in public. But, if you have that courage please think about attending the rally at our Legislature Monday, November 12 at 2:00. To show who "us" really is, we need you . . .

  • rose
    November 10, 2012 - 08:14

    This seals my long held conviction that the Advisory Council has outlived their usefulness and long time ago. In a time of retraint, we pay a handful of women in various 'agencies' needlessly. Who cares anout such useless findings. Imagine what the cost of the Advisory Council and the Coalition for women in Politics, just mention a couple that live off the taxpayers. Give that money to the single mothers that struggle day to day to make ends meet. These women who are depend on public money, should be able to put their talent to work at something real and useful, like the rest of us , and not dally around and get paid for their hobbies, - that being squawking.

  • nina bryll
    November 10, 2012 - 08:05

    Interesting, - that we let our taxmoney (the salary of this person) be used for this kind of garbage, - if that all the Advisory Council can find to spend their time at, then we don't need that public expense. Not long ago there was a CBC program, regarding the missery of young women today, - and how they lwoer themselves to please 'boys', as early as 10- 12 years old. Maybe the Advisory council could look into what the situation on that is on PEI and help induce some self assurance in teen-ager and young women to avoid such a sad state. At least do something useful, since you have chosen use the cottage industry of feminism for a livelihood.

  • I voted for the other guy
    November 10, 2012 - 07:37

    Women were also under-represented in The Eastern Graphic's Georgetown Court Section. Darn Inequality. Let's get mad about that too!

  • Dead On
    November 10, 2012 - 07:02

    I agree, women should become more newsworthy. Ledwell may also want to do another study and count the number of women vs men shopping. She can also break this study down to total hours involved in shopping and break it down once more to men vs women shopping during the hours 9-6.

    November 10, 2012 - 06:54

    what a pile of crap study- you must be a man Time for Women to realize that most of the suffering in the world is caused by man, and not woman. We should be leading the charge, NOT MEN!!!

  • what a pile of crap study
    November 09, 2012 - 20:31

    Discussions are for social sciences. Action. Did the women's lib movement drive by PEI or is the basis of Advisory Council have its own psychiatric "issues"??