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News Networks Overlooking Women Experts, Study Finds More than Half of Sunday Morning News Shows Don’t Include Women; SheSource.org Launched to Close Gender Gap

New York, NY—According to a new report released today by The White House Project, 56% of the top five Sunday morning talk shows did not include a single female guest and male experts featured in U.S. news media outnumber women nine to one. The study, conducted over an eight-month period (November 2004 to July 2005) looked at the Sunday political talk shows on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and FOX. SheSource.org aims to change these statistics. A new online resource launching October 11, SheSource.org works to balance the representation of men and women on these shows and within other news outlets, such as newspapers, news magazines and radio.  

The White House Project study, Who’s Talking Now, found that women, when compared to men, appeared as guests on these shows only 14% of the time. The report states that when women leaders and experts are identified, they are significantly less likely to make repeat appearances and they are more likely to be guests during later, less important segments of the show. While there was a slight increase in women’s appearances on these programs since The White House Project’s 2001 report, Who’s Talking?, the number of appearances by men still greatly outnumbers appearances by women.  

In response to the staggering lack of women experts in the media, The White House Project, The Women’s Funding Network and Fenton Communications have launched SheSource.org, a database of women experts and leaders in a variety of fields including politics, crime and national security who are available for interviews. “The sooner we have a more representative offering of female leaders in the media, the closer we will be to having a true democracy,” said Marie C. Wilson, President of The White House Project. “The news we receive currently comes from male voices and perspectives. By including commentary and opinion from women experts in areas like national security, foreign policy and terrorism, we enrich the debate. Producers and bookers have told us that they would gladly book more qualified women experts if they knew how to locate them. Now with SheSource they’ll know exactly where to look.”  

SheSource.org experts include women in areas where they are often overlooked, such as national security, the economy and international affairs. SheSource.org will allow journalists to conduct online database searches for experts in major issue areas. Additionally, SheSource.org will have publicists pitching and placing women commentators to respond to breaking news and top news stories of the day. In its first year, SheSource.org will operate as a pilot program in which the journalists who use it can provide feedback to ensure that SheSource is best serving the needs of the media.  

SheSource experts include:

  • Former Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Susan Blumenthal

  • Syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux

  • Lt. General (ret) Claudia Kennedy

  • Senior Program Officer at the UN Foundation, Johanna Mendelson

  • Nationally recognized health expert Dr. Hilda Hutcherson,

  • Nationally recognized crime expert Linda Fairstein

  • Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Maria Echaveste

    “Bookers have told us that they are looking for diverse voices and viewpoints for their programs,” said Lisa Witter, General Manager of Fenton Communications. “We recognize that they are often working under tight deadlines, and the news cycle may dictate scheduling interviews with guests who are already in their rolodex. SheSource will simply expand their rolodex and make it easy for them to book qualified guests from a more diverse pool of candidates.”  

    “We created SheSource to help level the playing field so half the population – women – can have their voices including in the national discussion,” said Chris Grumm, President & CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, which specializes in programs for women and girls. “We forget sometimes what a powerful impact the media has on our lives. There may be a young woman out there who decides she wants to become a general someday because she sees Lt. General Claudia Kennedy on CNN and decides that she can do it. That’s the impact we hope to make with SheSource.”  

    Criticism of women’s representation of women in the news has not been limited to The White House Project’s studies. Earlier this year, Susan Estrich and other women criticized the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the Washington Post for the absence of women on their op-ed pages. Women write less than 25 percent of syndicated columns in U.S. newspapers.  

    For more information, visit www.shesource.org.

    Click here to download the full study.  

    Letter from Marie Wilson, President of The White House Project: Women NOT in the News


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