Women of colour are experiencing “extraordinary levels of exclusion” that make them “invisible” in news organisations, a new report has found.
From Outrage to Opportunity: How to Include the Missing Perspectives of Women of All Colors in News Leadership and Coverage was produced and commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and authored by Luba Kassova, co-founder of audience strategy consultancy AKAS.
The unprecedented analysis of newsrooms and news stories from six countries – the UK, Nigeria, India, South Africa, Kenya and the US – found women are still “very much on the margins of editorial decision-making in the highest-profile news beats”.
For every woman who is an editor-in-chief, there are between two (in South Africa, the US and the UK) and 12 (in Indian regional news outlets) male editors-in-chief. Across the key beats of business, politics, and foreign affairs, women hold as few as 1 in 6 editorial roles in the countries researched.
Occasional instances of parity (e.g. in South African political editors or in US business editors) are counterbalanced by exclusively male leadership (e.g. among Kenyan and Indian regional political editors).
The report warns that there is no “silver bullet” solution to the problem: “While hiring more women leaders is an imperative starting point, it is simply not enough to resolve the issue. To accelerate change, women’s missing or muted voices must be amplified at each stage of the news value chain: i.e. in news leadership and newsrooms, in newsgathering, in news coverage, and in news consumption.
“Moreover, to improve gender and racial equity in news, organisations should drive change at the individual level, as typically happens now, but also at two other levels: the systemic and organisational.”