Public presentation Tuesday to explore the topic of women in the media and female leadership
© Guardian photo
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.