THE BLOG

News Networks Overlooking Women Experts, Study Finds

10/14/2005 07:52 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

According to a new report, 56 percent 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, 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.

Among the report's findings:

  • Overall, the percentage of guest appearances by women increased by 3% (from 11% in 2001 to 14% in 2005). CBS showed the most improvement with a 9% increase (from 9% in 2001 to 18% in 2005).

  • The network percentages of female guest appearances ranged from a low of 11% (at CNN) to a high of 18% (at CBS). The disparity between networks suggests that low percentages of female guests stem from network choices rather than a lack of women available to appear as guests on the shows.

  • More than half of the episodes (56%) had no female guests at all.

  • Of all guests appearing on the Sunday morning talk shows, female guests were significantly less likely to have repeat appearances. There were 186 repeat appearances by male guests but only 37 repeat appearances by female guests. This further illustrates the role the networks play in providing visibility to women and further demonstrates that low percentages of female guests reflect network choices rather than a dearth of female leaders.

  • Although the overall percentage of women appearing on the s hows increased slightly between 2000 and 2005, this improvement in female leaders’ visibility is more modest than the numbers suggest since women are significantly more likely to appear in the later (less important and less watched) segments of the Sunday talk shows than in the opening segments. In fact, the placement of women in the first, most visible segment of the shows increased by only one percentage point (from 12% in 2001 to 13% in 2005).

  • 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.