It’s 2016.

The good news: With the simple click of a button, immediate information is available with the world’s endless stream of media.

The bad news: Like it or not, this information is being told from the points of view of people from a narrow slice of life. 

Two organizations, Women’s Media Center and GenderAvenger want to know who is actually talking in the media so they’ve launched a new project called WhoTalks? to analyze the balance of genders that appear on popular US news shows on television.

If Beyonce is right that girls run the world, where are they in the media? The media is an extremely powerful global tool that many have access to. It educates, informs public opinion, and sometimes even influences policies. But when the people performing this essential role are not representative of society, it distorts the message and reinforces inequalities.

Women in just the US alone have walked a long way on the road toward gender equality and it goes far beyond media. Only 19.4% of women hold seats in US congress and 20% of Senate members are women. All women are impacted by the US gender wage gap, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, occupation, or education. Additionally, even though females account for 80% of consumer spending in the US, only 3% are creative directors in advertising. The imbalances go on and on.


The world can do better than this, and the media can do better than this. As the Who Talks? project makes clear, the perspectives of women are needed, especially in the media.

The Women's Media Center and GenderAvenger are dedicated to fighting for gender equality are deeply concerned about how the world’s information is being interpreted and delivered to the public so they’ve partnered with Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) to get to the bottom of it.

All three groups agree that news becomes critical during a country’s election year. News reporters and popular cable show hosts are often the ones interpreting the election for voters during this time and so the Who Talks? project will track and publicize the gender balance of analysts during the 2016 US presidential election.

During the 2012 US presidential election, 71 percent of analyzed front-page stories were written by men and 77 percent of political news shows and cable network TV guests and experts were men.

The project will spark conversation and potentially change as it scrutinizes media channels through November, 2017--the final month of the presidential election.

Each day, the project will monitor six morning and primetime cable shows on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC and results will be posted weekly on each organization’s website.

Who Talks? asks an important question that needs to be answered because girls and women should have a place at the table when important issues are being discussed and decisions are being made.

See who’s talking this election. Follow the project on Twitter throughout this presidential election with #whotalks. 


Demand Equity

Are women part of media’s important conversations?

By Gina Darnaud