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A few data on women’s mis-representation in the media

In 2015, the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) conducted the largest study of women's image, participation and representation in the news media over 20 years and 114 countries. To give an overview on the matter of the significance of women's misrepresentation in the media before 2017, here are some data from this study:

This image of a gendered society reported by the every media can reinforce and perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes. Maybe the MeToo movement had a positive impact on this challenge ?...

Table of Contents

  1. Context
  2. The Quotebank Dataset
  3. Descriptive Analysis
  4. Matched Observational Study
  5. First Question of the Study
  6. Second Question of the Study
  7. Conclusion of the Analysis

Context: The #MeToo movement

In 2006, Tarana Burke, activist and sexual assault survivor, creates the MeToo movement in support to all women victims of crimes of sexual nature. It is only in October 2017, when more than 80 women in the film industry made sexual abuse allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein, that the MeToo movement re-emerged. The actress Alyssa Milano is the one who reignited the movement by encouraging victims of sexual harassment and assault to come forward using the hashtag #MeToo as a status update on Twitter. With the goal of raising awareness of sexual misconduct, empowering survivors to speak out, helping them heal as a community by not feeling alone in this battle, and bringing them justice, the MeToo movement has spread around the world, showing the reality and magnitude of sexual abuse against women.

The reappearance of this movement can be seen in the newspapers. Indeed, when one analyses the lexical field of thousands of citations from English articles, coming from the Quotebank Dataset), the rise of #MeToo and the Harvey Weinstein scandal is clearly marked temporally in the two graphs below. The frequency of quoted words related to sexual harassment (sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, sexual touching) and any references to the #MeToo movement are respectively represented on the left and right figure. Each shows a marked peak of higher frequency in the year 2017 relating the importance that the movement took that year in the newspapers.

In addition to the movement's instantaneous but temporary effect that can be seen on these graphs, in the long term its beneficial effect is much more profound. Indeed, by inviting thousands of women to come out of the shadows, to protest against such violence, to make themselves heard and to demand justice, these survivors have given the movement an even more important dimension in the fight for gender equality. Indeed, they have empowered the voices of women all around the world.

It is hoped to find in this analysis, that this empowerment will reverberate through to the newspapers, where women's voices would be better heard, represented, diversified and accepted.

The Quotebank Dataset: A goldmine of information on the role of women in the media

178 million quotations along with its speakers extracted from hundreds of english articles from 2015 to 2020 together in one open corpus; that's the QuoteBank Dataset. For a more thorough analysis, additional information about the speakers from the dataset need to be collected. Thus, thanks to an additional speaker metadata available for ~9M speakers (Wikidata), several attributes were added to the Quotebank dataset to make it more complete: the gender, the date of birth, the academic degree, and finally the speaker's occupations. From here, we have at our disposal a goldmine of information on the subjects, personnalities, genders, careers etcetera represented in the newspaper and displayed to a target audience in the last five years. Nevertheless, the dataset being too important and full of unknown speaker caracteritsics, data processing has been done retrieving only speakers with male or female genders, known ages, academic degrees and occupations for a much more relevant and reliable dataset applicable to matched observational studies. A typical line from our edited dataset gives the following informations:

"At this moment the women of Time's Up and #metoo are looking and saying, why don't we have more stories and why is it that if we see these perversions at the end of the line, why aren't we fixing it at the beginning of the line?"

Speaker Speaker's Wikidata ID Speaker's gender Speaker's age
Eric Garcetti Q5386557 Male 47
Speaker's occupations Speaker's academic degree Quotation's number of occurences Newspaper's year release
[politician, actor, television actor...] [Bachelor of Arts, Master of International Affairs...] 3 2018

Descriptitve analysis: An overview of the dataset

The dataset, as said before, was reduced to have an optimal analysis. Let’s take a look at what it contains keeping in mind the two pillar questions around which this study is conducted:

Do women speak more in general after the movement?
Has the representation of women's occupations changed after #MeToo?