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DOI, Digital Objetc Identifier 10.4185/RLCS-2017-1191en | ISSN 1138 - 5820 | RLCS, 72-2017 | Audio-visual explanation of the author |

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How to cite this article in bibliograhies / References

MP Matud Aznar, C Rodríguez-Wangüemert, I Espinosa Morales (2017): “Portrayal of women and men in Spanish press”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 72, pp. 765 to 782.
http://www.revistalatinacs.org/072paper/1191/41en.html
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2017-1191en

Portrayal of women and men
in Spanish press

 

M. P. Matud Aznar [CV] [o] [g] Professor of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatment. Universidad de La Laguna (Spain) - pmatud@ull.edu.es

Carmen Rodríguez-Wangüemert [CV] [o] [g] Professor of Journalism. Universidad de La Laguna (Spain) - crodrigu@ull.edu.es

Inmaculada Espinosa Morales [CV] Universidad de La Laguna (Spain)

Abstract
Introduction: This article examines the portrayal of women and men in Spain’s most-read national general-information daily press. Methods: The study is based on the quantitative content analysis of the non-advertising content of 28 issues of two of the most-read national newspapers in Spain, El País and El Mundo, selected through the constructed week sampling method. Results and conclusions: The results show great inequality in the representation of women and men in both newspapers. Women are under-represented, both as participants and as protagonists of the published texts and images, while the depiction of women and men is informed by gender stereotypes that attribute power and authority to men. Women are rarely represented as athletes, and are represented as victims more frequently than men. In addition, women appear less frequently than men in the press as information sources or authors of texts and photographs.

Keywords
Gender representation; newspaper; content analysis; women; men; stereotypes.

Contents
1.Introduction. 2. Theoretical framework and hypotheses. 3. Methods. 3.1. Sample. 3.2. Coding procedure and content analysis variables. 3.3. Statistical analysis. 4. Results. 4.1. Differences in the portrayal of women and men. 4.2. Gender differences in authorship. 4.3. Gender differences in cited sources.  5. Discussion and conclusions. 6. References.

Translation by CA Martínez-Arcos
(PhD in Communication from the University of London)

 [ Research ] [ Funded ] 
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1. Introduction

The purpose of the research presented in this article is to expand our knowledge on gender representations in the Spanish mainstream daily press. This study is inspired by the previous works published this decade by the authors of this article, including Gender in Spanish Daily Newspapers (Matud, Rodríguez and Espinosa, 2011), which is based on the content analysis of El Mundo newspaper. This article is a breakthrough since, in addition to analysing the content of published by the aforementioned newspaper five years later, examines the content of El País newspaper, which increases the generalisability of the results, enables the comparison of the representations of both newspapers, and improves the previously used methods. It is a quantitative analysis of the non-advertising content of 14 issues of each of the two newspapers, which were selected through the constructed week method. The analysis of the representation of women and men is based on three aspects: 1) the presence of each gender in texts and photographs, as protagonists and participants of the events and issues addressed; 2) the presence of each gender as authors of the information pieces; 3) the references to women and men as sources of information. In addition to the analysis of the presence of people of each gender, the analysis aims to determine whether gender representations are informed by gender stereotypes.

Despite the fact that the biological characteristics that underlie sex are not dimorphic but multidimensional and multi-categorical (Moradi and Parent, 2013), the division of people into women and men is essential in all cultures and the designation at birth of one of the two categories has a profound impact on how people are treated, on what is expected from them and on how they live their lives (Eagly, Beall and Sternberg, 2004). Although there is empirical evidence that indicates that both women and men are very diverse among them and that they are similar in most of the psychological variables (Hyde, 2016), there is a belief that they are fundamentally different (LaFrance and Vial, 2016): they are gender stereotypes. These stereotypes can include physical characteristics, roles, preferences for activities and personality traits that are grouped into two broad dimensions that characterise men as active, competent, ambitious and competitive and women as warm, friendly and sympathetic (Glick, 2016). Importantly, these are not only differences, but forms of inequality since the features and attributes associated with men grant them more power and authority than those associated with women.

Evidence shows that the media, which have been regarded as powerful and omnipresent (Wood, 1994), are important sources of information in relation to gender (Kite, Deaux and Haines, 2008). Media representations contain explicit and implicit discourses about gender that tell audiences which social roles and personal characteristics are acceptable or undesirable in men and women (Kosut, 2012). This is important because the strict monitoring of gender norms limits the development of the potential of human beings and perpetuates gender inequalities. Gallagher (2015) indicates that the representation of women and men in the media is a key indicator of progress in gender equality and the achievement of human rights for women. Therefore, the periodic analysis of such representations is considered to be necessary.

2. Theoretical framework and hypotheses

Currently, the media are part of people’s private life and work as entertainment, companionship and source of knowledge and interpretation of what happens in the private level. The media are important at the cultural level in three broad ways: 1) they direct the attention of people towards acceptable codes of conduct in society and direct conversations about it; 2) they tell people what and who should matter in their world and why; 3) they help people to get to know themselves and their connections or disconnections with others (Turow, 2009). The media have great influence on individuals and culture since they mediate individual experiences and work as powerful socialisation agents (Ward and Harrison, 2005). Socialisation is the way through which people learn from their culture and acquire their values, beliefs, perspectives and social norms. It is an ongoing social process since people are socialised and resocialised throughout their life (Signorielli, 2001).

Evidence indicates that, although women constitute at least half of the population, their presence in the media is much lower than that of men (Collins, 2011; WACC, 2015). Moreover, although, at least in the Western world, women have gained access to education and employment and have expanded their roles, from the traditional roles of housewife and mother to very diverse jobs, the media still represent women and men in very different and stereotyped ways (Collins, 2011; Lindsey, 2016; Matthes, Prieler, and Adam, 2016). This leads people to develop from an early age rigid beliefs about what behaviours are suitable for boys and girls and for women and men (Lindsey, 2016), which has been linked with the transmission and maintenance of gender inequality given that the media often legitimise such inequality by creating images and telling audiences which of these images are valid or not (Aulette, Wittner and Blakely, 2009).

Wood (1994) argues that the underrepresentation of women implies the fallacy that men are the cultural standard and women are little important or invisible. This author proposes that the media representation of women and men is very stereotyped and is characterised by: 1) the presentation of men in a way that is consonant with the traditional image of masculinity: to be strong, independent, active and successful. 2) The representation of men as authority figures and women as incompetent. 3) The presentation of women as the family caretaker and men as bread-winners. The association of women with family roles occurs even when women appear in the media for their achievements and professional activities. Even in these circumstances women’s marriage, family life and other aspects of their traditional roles are mentioned. 4) The presentation of women as sex objects and victims and men as aggressors. Thus, the desirable image of men is aggressive and dominant while the desirable image of woman is one of a young, beautiful, sexy and vulnerable woman (Wood, 2009). And when women are involved in activities that are not consistent with traditional gender roles such as, for example, terrorism, the informative treatment is characterised by the discourse of exceptionality, which represents them as “pioneers” or “intruders” (Plaza, Rivas-Nieto and Rey-García, 2017).

The unequal treatment of women and men has been detected in all media and in all types of information, including news. According to the Global Media Monitoring Project, which since 1995 and every five years analyses the representation of women in the news around the world and documents trends in such representations, the progress in gender equality in the media has virtually come to a stall in the last five years (WACC, 2015). The results of the study carried out in 2015, based on data collected from 114 countries and 22,136 news stories, showed that women represented only 24% of the people who appeared on the television, radio and printed news. This percentage was also obtained in 2010. But the differences in the representation percentages of women and men vary according to the geographic area of study, and depending on the subject addressed: the differences decreases in news on gender and health and increases significantly when it comes to politics and government news, where only 16% of the represented people are women.

The under-representation and stereotyped portrayal of women have also been detected in the press since long time ago, and still persists around the world, regardless of the ways media contents have been adapted to their values and cultural norms (Lindsey, 2016). An example of what happens in newspapers is a study carried out by Jolliffe (1998), who compared language and gender roles in the New York Times in 1885, and a century later, in 1995. He found out that, although the representation of women had not improved, in 1985 women did not receive the same space as men and both genders were represented according to traditional roles. It was rare to see women performing a job and men in their family roles.

Significant differences have also been detected in the treatment the media give to men and women in sports, a particularly relevant area since masculinity has been associated with sports and has excluded women (Aulette et al., 2009). It has been pointed out that the differences in the representation of male and female athletes represent gender-based power relations and the fact that sports in the media remains to be a patriarchal institution dominated by men and made by and for them (Crolley and Teso, 2007; Calvo and Gutiérrez, 2016).

Gender inequality in the media is not limited to differences in the representation frequency and form of women and men, but also occurs in the journalistic profession, particularly in the area of information sources.

The analysis of gender differences in the journalistic profession has been considered important because there is evidence that indicates that personal characteristics may influence how news stories are covered, and one of them is gender (Craft and Wanta, 2004). It has been argued that the approach of the news could have influenced by the fact that journalism has been widely dominated by men, given that despite the incorporation of women to the profession, men continue to occupy the positions of power (Kitch, 2015; Morinière, 2015). It is further argued that the journalistic perspective could be different to the extent that women join the profession (Peiser, 2000). However, the empirical evidence on the existence of differences in the news based on the gender of the writer is not conclusive.

Some studies have detected differences in the type of news covered. There is evidence that it is more common for women journalists, in comparison to male journalists, to write about human-interest and health-related stories, while it is more common for male journalists to report on politics (Desmond and Danilewicz, 2010). In addition, the sports section has traditionally been dominated by men, and although in recent years a greater tolerance for the presence of women journalists has been detected, men still predominate in the decision-making positions and as journalists (Calvo and Gutiérrez, 2016).

Studies have showed that the existence of systematic gender differences according to the type of news reported is another important way to maintain gender stereotypes. As Desmond and Danilewicz (2011) propose, if such differences occur, audiences can expect certain areas of information to be appropriate for a particular gender. And if professional women are considered as valid only for certain stereotypical clichés, audiences will accept that this limitation as the norm. They also recognise that it is not good for the journalistic profession to allocate topics by following gender bias and stereotypes, instead of the degree of experience or qualifications, because the quality of the news will deteriorate.

Another relevant area in the analysis of gender differences in the news has been the gender of the sources used, which considered to be very important, not only in the construction of the news, but also in their orientation and perspective (Ross, 2007). There is evidence that it is more likely for men to be cited as sources than women (Freedman and Fico, 2005; Matud et al., 2011; Ross, 2007), especially when it comes to expert sources, although this tendency appears to decrease when the writers of the news are women. Although the evidence is not conclusive (Ross, 2007), some studies have found that women journalists use women as sources to a greater extent than their male colleagues (Freedman and Fico, 2005; WACC, 2015).

The following hypotheses we formulated based on the literature review: H1: The presence of women will be lower than the presence of men in the texts and photographs published in newspapers. H2: Women and men who appear as protagonists or central figures of the news will be represented according to gender stereotypes. H3: It will be more common to find men as the authors of texts and photographs, in comparison to women. H4: There will be differences in the portrayal of men and women across the newspaper sections based on the gender of the authors. H5: It will be more common for women to appear represented as protagonists in texts written by women than in texts written by men. H6: The presence of men as sources of information will more frequent than that of women. H7. It will be more common for women to be cited as information sources when the author of the news is a woman than when it is a man.

3. Methods

The testing of the hypotheses is based on the quantitative content analysis of the non-advertising messages of the two newspapers, except for obituaries, weather information, and television programming. Each of the news pieces and opinion articles published in the newspaper were considered as the units of study. In addition, non-advertising photographs, graphics and illustrations were analysed independently.

3.1. Sample

The analysis is based on the contents published in 28 issues of two of Spain’s three most-read national daily general-information newspapers: El País and El Mundo. The constructed week method was used to obtain a representative sample of the contents published throughout the year. First, a day of the week and a month of the year were randomly selected and then the first newspaper was selected for the analysis. Afterwards, we selected one issue each month by choosing the consecutive day of the week of the previous month, until the seven days of the week were considered. Thus, we analysed 14 issues of El País and 14 of El Mundo, which corresponded to fourteen different months and each day of the week (two issues per day). The first issue was published on Monday, March 1, 2010 and the last one on Sunday, April 10, 2011.

There is evidence that the constructed week method produces better estimates than random sampling (Ryffe, Aust and Lacy, 2009) and thus it was important for the sampling of content to give the same possibilities of analysis to each day of the week since, generally, newspapers have patterns that vary depending on the day of the week.

3.2. Coding procedure and content analysis variables

Coding was performed based on the system developed by Matud et al. (2011) for the analysis of newspaper contents, as it has shown high reliability levels. These codes have been reviewed and some of their categories have expanded to collect all the information. The following variables were coded of each analysed unit:

  1. The genre of the represented persons was coded as: a) woman; b) man; c) both genders.

  2. The sections of the newspaper were coded as: front page, back page, opinion, national, international, society, economy, sports, culture and obituaries.

  3. The occupation of the person(s) represented in a central or protagonist role. After analysing the professions it was found that they could be grouped into the following categories: a) President or senior positions; b) artists or celebrities (not included in other categories); c) people accused of terrorism or other crimes; d) writers, philosophers; e) athletes; f) politicians; g) employees; h) soldier, civil guard or police; i) bull fighter; j) religious person; k) royalty, understood as any person belonging to a Royal House; l) journalist, presenter, or photographer; m) retiree; n) activist.

  4. Whether the central figure was presented or not as a victim of some event or the violent action of others. The options were: a) male victim; b) female victim; c) victims of both genders; d) not represented as victim.

  5. The gender of the author of the article, which was coded as: a) man; b) women; c) man and woman; d) no identified gender; e) without signature.

  6. The gender of the cited source: a) expert man; b) expert woman; c) expert men and women (M&W); d) male witness; e) female witness; f) witnesses of both genders; g) institutional, when the cited source was an institution or body and not a specific person.

A journalist trained in gender and content analysis and with previous experience in coding and media texts analysed all the material from the two newspapers, by applying the described encoding protocol.

3.3. Statistical analysis

Descriptive analysis and contingency tables were developed for the study. Pearson’s chi-squared test was used to establish independence between the qualitative variables. All analyses were performed with SPSS 23.0 for Windows.

4. Results

A total of 5,260 units were included in the sample of analysis. Of these units, 47.9% (n = 2521) were published in El Mundo and 52.1% (n = 2739) in El País. Most of the units (59.2%) were texts, 34% were photographs, 3.9% were infographics and 2.9% were illustrations.

4.1. Differences in the portrayal of women and men

The analysis of the presence of persons of each gender represented in the published contents indicated that 3200 units (60% of the total) did not include any woman, while only 831 units (15.8%) did not include any man. Figure 1 shows the percentage of women and men that appear when there is one or more persons represented (up to a maximum of 13 persons). As we can see, the presence of men is far superior than that of women in all cases. These differences are more marked when the number of people is greater, with all the persons being practically men when the number of represented persons is greater than nine. And, while 6.4% of the units only include groups of men, only 1.7% of the units included only groups of women. This trend occurred in both newspapers, although there were some percentage differences of units that did not include both genders: 57.6% in El Mundo and 64% in El País in the case of women and 11.7% in El Mundo and 19.4% in El País in the case of men.

The analysis of gender differences in photographs indicates that 13.4% did not include men while 61.8% did not include women. In the exclusive analysis of the texts the percentages were 15.6% and 60.5%, respectively.

Figure 1. Presence of women and men in newspapers

001


The analysis of gender representations in protagonist or central roles showed that one or more men were the protagonist of 49.1% (n = 2583) of the units, while women were protagonist in 7.8% (n = 409) of cases and that 10.2% (n = 536) of the units had both women and men as protagonists. The percentage differences are statistically significant: χ2(2, N = 3528) = 2531.92, p <.001. In the analysis of the proportions of the representation of either one or another gender as central figures the percentages were 86.3% for men and 13.7% for women. Again, these percentage differences are statistically significant: χ2(1, N = 2992) = 1579.64, p <.001. Table 1 shows the representation of each gender as protagonist in each newspaper. As you can see, the trends are quite similar in both newspapers, although the representation of both genders as protagonists is more common in El País than in El Mundo.

Table 1. Gender representation in protagonist roles in each newspaper

 

Only
 men

Only
women

Women & men

 

 

N

%

N

%

N

%

Χ2

p

El Mundo

1276

50.6

203

8.1

211

8.4

1352.44

<.001

El País

1307

47.7

206

7.5

325

11.9

1191.89

<.001

Table 2 shows data divided in texts and photographs. As we can see, although in both cases there are statistically significant percentage differences gender differences in representations in central roles are higher in texts than in pictures.

Table 2. Gender representation in protagonist roles in each newspaper distributed by texts and photographs

 

Only
men

 

Only women

 

Women & men

 

 

 

 

N

%

 

N

%

 

N

%

 

Χ2

p

Texts

1396

75.6

 

172

5.5

 

279

15.1

 

1492,86

<.001

Photographs

1133

63.4

 

235

13.1

 

240

13.4

 

997,44

<.001

Altogether, the results show that the representation of men in the press is much higher than that of women’s, although these differences seem to be slightly lower in photographs than in texts. This has allowed us to confirm the first hypothesis, which proposed that the presence of women would be less common than that of men in the texts and photographs published in the newspapers.

 The second hypothesis was that women and men in protagonist or central roles would be represented according to gender stereotypes. To test this hypothesis, we analysed the occupations of the people presented as protagonists, whether they appeared or not as victims, and the section of the newspaper where they were represented as protagonists.

Table 3 shows, from higher to lower frequency, the occupations of the persons presented in central roles. The percentage differences are statistically significant: χ2(26, N = 3232) = 499.21, p <.001.

Table 3. Occupation of men and women represented as protagonists in the newspapers

 

Men

 

Women

 

Women and men

 

Occupation

n

%

n

%

n

%

N

President, senior

631

81.2

51

6.6

95

12.2

777

Athletes

735

96.6

9

1.2

17

2.2

761

Artists, celebrities

312

58.4

122

22.8

100

18.7

534

Politicians

219

60.8

42

11.7

99

27.5

360

Employees

110

65.9

33

19.8

24

14.4

167

Journalist, photographer presenters

 

84

 

57.9

 

38

 

26.2

 

23

 

15.9

 

145

People accused of terrorism/crimes

 

111

 

77.1

 

11

 

7.6

 

22

 

15.3

 

144

Writers, philosophers

91

82.0

11

9.9

9

8.1

111

Soldier, police, civil guard

64

80,0

2

2.5

14

17.5

80

Bull fighter

56

100.0

0

0

0

0

56

Royals

11

32.4

9

26.5

14

41.2

34

Retiree

14

63.6

4

18.2

4

18.2

22

Activist

20

80,0

0

0

5

20

25

Religious person

13

81.3

1

6.3

2

12.5

16

Total

2471

76.5

333

10.3

428

13.2

3232

Occupation could not be determined in 2.6% of the total number of men represented as protagonists, in 1.6% of women protagonists and 2.4% of both genders as protagonists, so such data are not included in table 3. As we can see in table 3, the most frequent occupation is senior officials, which was much more frequently when one or more men were represented as protagonists (in 81.2% of cases) than when it was only women (6.6%). Another very common occupation is athletes, an occupation where gender inequality was very high since 96.6% of the athletes were only men and only 1.2% were only women. It was very rare to find bullfighters as protagonists of the information, but when they appeared it was always men. Great gender inequality also existed when the protagonists were writers or philosophers, religious people, activists, or members of the armed forces and security bodies, which in at least 80% of cases were one or more men. It was also very rare to find women represented as terrorists, as people accused of other crimes or as politicians.

The intragender analysis showed that when the protagonists were exclusively men, the most common occupation were as athletes and presidents/senior officials, with 29.7% and 25.5%, respectively, of the units with exclusively male protagonists. Less common occupations were artists (12.6%) and politicians (8.9%), and the least common were royals (0.4%), religious figures (0.5%) and retirees (0.6%). In units with only-women protagonists, the most common occupation were artists or celebrities, which occurred in more than a third (36.6%) of these units. Less common occupations in these units were female presidents or senior officials (15.3%), politicians (12.6%), and media professionals (11.4%), while the least frequent were women activists and bullfighters, which did not occur in any case; religious figures (0.3%) and members of the armed and security forces (0.6%). These trends were observed in the two newspapers, although in El País it was more common to find more artists (15.3%) than politicians (7.4%) in news centred exclusively on men, and it was more common to find politicians (14.6%) than presidents/senior officials (12.8%) in news centred exclusively on women.  

The examination of gender differences in the representation of victims indicated that it only occurred in less than one tenth of the units. It was men in 170 of the cases, representing 6.6% of the male-protagonist-only units, and it was women in 10.8% (n = 44) of the female-protagonist-only units. Finally, it was both genders in 12.5% (n = 67) of the cases. The percentage differences are statistically significant: χ2(2, N = 3528) = 26.13, p <.001. The analysis of each newspaper showed the same trend, although it was more common to find news with only female protagonists represented as victims in El Mundo (12.3%) than in El País (9.2%), and it was more frequent to find news with both male and female protagonists represented as victims in El País (13.2%) than in El Mundo (11.4%), while in both newspapers only 6.6% of the male protagonists were represented as victims.

Table 4 shows the representation of male and female protagonists across the different sections of the newspaper. The percentage differences are statistically significant: χ2(18, N = 3528) = 351.63, p <.001. As we can see, more than half of the contents published in all sections were starred only by men, while the highest percentage of female-only protagonists were included on the back page and it was only 27%. The greatest gender inequality occurred in the sports section, where more than 95% of the information featured only men. The lowest gender inequality occurred in the Society section, where 51% of the pieces only featured men and 21.9% only featured women. These trends are observed in both newspapers, although El Mundo presented lower inequality in Society, where 47.2% of the content only featured men and 38.9% only featured women, and the back page, where 59% of the content only featured men and 35.9% only featured women. In El País these percentages were, respectively, 51.5% and 19.6% in Society, and 68.6% and 17.1% on the back page.

Table 4. Section and gender of the persons featured in the information units

 

Men

 

Women

 

Women & men

 

Section

n

%

 

n

%

 

n

%

N

Culture

521

67.2

 

115

14.8

 

139

17.9

775

Sports

708

95.8

 

13

1.8

 

18

2.4

739

National

399

67.7

 

59

10.0

 

131

22.2

589

International

290

69.2

 

54

12.9

 

75

17.9

419

Society

156

51.0

 

67

21.9

 

83

27.1

306

Front page

153

76.9

 

27

13.6

 

19

9.5

199

Opinion

118

69.4

 

17

10.0

 

35

20.6

170

Economy

108

70.1

 

20

13.0

 

26

16.9

154

Obituaries

83

80.6

 

17

16.5

 

3

2.9

103

Back page

47

63.5

 

20

27.0

 

7

9.5

74

Total

2583

73.2

 

409

11.6

 

536

15.2

3528

Altogether, the results confirm the second hypothesis, because it has been found that it is much more common for men to appear as figures of power, authority and strength, associated with sporting activities, military activities and the commission of crimes, while it is more common to find women, when they are presented as protagonists, in the role of artist or celebrity, or victims.

4.2. Gender differences in authorship

Of the total of published units, 43.3% (n = 2275) had not author, 36.8% (n = 1936) were written by men, 10.3% (n = 543) were written by women, and 0.7% (n = 35) were written by both genders, and 9.0% (n = 471) were signed with initials which made it impossible to determine the gender of the author. Given the small percentage of contents signed by both genders, we decided to perform the analysis only on the units signed exclusively by men or by women. Of the 2479 units that met this requirement, 78.1% were signed by men and 21.9% by women. These percentage differences are statistically significant: χ2(1, N = 2479) = 782.75, p <.001. The analysis of each newspaper showed very similar trends in both cases: the percentages of contents signed by men were 77.5% in El Mundo and 78.8% in El País and of contents signed by women were 22.5% and 21.2%, respectively.

The analysis of texts and photographs found that 1398 texts (74.2%) were signed only by men and 486 (25.8%) only by women. The percentage differences are statistically significant: χ2(1, N = 1884) = 441.48, p <.001. The analysis of photographs showed that 454 (91.7%) of them were signed by men and 41 (8.3%) by women. These percentage differences are statistically significant: χ2(1, N = 495) = 344.58, p <.001. This confirms the third hypothesis, which proposed that it will be more common for men to appear as authors of the texts and photographs than women.

Table 5 presents data on the gender of the author of the contents and the section where they appear. The percentage differences are statistically significant: χ2(9, N = 2479) = 91.94, p <.001.

Table 5. Section and gender of the author of the contents

 

Men

 

Women

 

Section

n

%

 

n

%

N

Culture

362

84.2

 

68

15.8

430

Sports

305

91.9

 

27

8.1

739

National

364

76.0

 

115

24.0

479

International

223

67.8

 

106

32.2

329

Society

110

68.3

 

51

31.7

161

Front page

90

71.4

 

36

28.6

126

Opinion

237

81.4

 

54

18.6

291

Economy

146

74.1

 

51

25.9

197

Obituaries

49

84.5

 

9

15.5

58

Back page

50

65.8

 

26

34.2

76

Total

1936

78.1

 

543

21.9

2479

As Table 5 shows, the greatest inequality level occurs in sports, where more than 90% of the authors are men, followed by obituaries, culture and opinion. The sections with the lowest level of inequality are the back page, international and society, although only about one-third of the authors of these sections are women. The analysis of each newspaper revealed the existence of some differences: on the back page of El País the percentage of female authors was 54.3% and of male authors 45.7%, but in this newspaper had a higher level of inequality in the front page (81.7% for men and 18.3% for women) than El Mundo, where the percentages were 62.1% and 37.9%, respectively. Moreover, the percentage of economy contents signed by women was 36.3% in El Mundo and 11.9% in El País, while the percentages of contents signed by women in the society section were 34.9% and 18.8%, respectively. Therefore, the fourth hypothesis, which proposed the existence of gender differences in terms of authorship across the newspaper sections, is not confirmed fully since, in some sections, the differences in the presence of women or men as authors of the contents varies according to the newspaper.

Table 6 shows the contingency analysis between the gender of the protagonist and the gender of the author of the published content. As we can see, although most contents signed by women and by men only have men as protagonists. However, less than one tenth of the contents signed by men (9.0%) feature one or more women, but this percentage increases to 17.6% in contents signed by a woman. The percentage differences are statistically significant: χ2(2, N = 1639) = 29.76, p <.001

Table 6. Gender of authors and gender of protagonists

 

Authors’ gender

 

 

Protagonists’ gender

Men

Women

 

 

n

%

 

n

%

N

%

Men

1018

77.1

 

201

63.0

1219

74.4

Women

119

9.0

 

56

17.6

175

10.7

Both

 183

13.9

 

62

19.4

245

14.9

Total

1320

100

 

319

100

1639

100

The individual analysis of each newspaper showed that the differences were greater in El País, where only 6.9% of the content written by men had a woman or more women as protagonist, while the percentage of female protagonists in content signed by women was 18.3%. In the case of El Mundo, these percentages were 10.8% and 16.3%, respectively. This confirms the fifth hypothesis, which indicates that it would be more common for women to appear represented as protagonists in contents signed by women than by men.

4.3. Gender differences in cited sources

Table 7 shows the data on the use of sources and the type of sources listed in each of the newspapers. As we can see, in both newspapers more than half of the sources are expert men while the presence of expert women or experts of both genders is below 10%. It is also more common for both newspapers to cite men as witnesses than women, although the difference is greater in El Mundo, where it is less frequent to find institutional sources, although such sources are cited more than women in both newspapers. This confirms the sixth hypothesis, which proposed that women would less frequently cited than men as sources of information.

Table 7. Sources cited in each newspaper

 

El Mundo

 

El País

 

 

 

Sources

n

%

 

n

%

N

%

 

Expert man

327

53.2

396

53.9

723

53.6

 

Expert woman

56

9.1

56

7.6

112

8.3

 

Expert M&W

43

7.0

72

9.8

115

8.5

 

Witness man

70

11.4

43

5.9

113

8.4

 

Witness woman

21

3.4

17

2.3

38

2.8

 

Witness M&W

11

1.8

18

2.4

29

2.1

 

Institutional

87

14.1

133

18.1

220

16.3

 

Total

615

100

735

100

1350

100

 

Finally, Table 8 shows the analysis of contingency between the cited sources and the gender of the author of the information. The percentage differences are statistically significant: χ2(6, N = 970) = 43.51, p <.001. As we can see, although male authors cite men experts in more than half of the cases, this does not happen when the authors are women, although the most common type of source are still expert men. It is also more common for women authors, than for men authors, to cite women as sources, although the percentage differences are low when it comes to expert sources, especially when it comes to expert women, who are cited in only 10.5% of the texts signed by women and 7.5% of those signed by men. The individual analysis of each newspaper showed that these differences were very small in El Mundo, with 9.9% and 8.9%, respectively, and greater in El País, with 11.0% and 6.3%, respectively. This confirms H7, which proposed that it was more common for common for women to appear represented as sources in contents signed by women than contents signed by men, although the most common type of source are expert men.


 Table 8. Sources cited and gender of author

 

Man

 

Woman

 

 

 

Sources

n

%

 

n

%

N

%

 

Expert man

408

61.3

 

149

49.0

557

57.4

 

Expert woman

50

7.5

 

32

10.5

82

8.5

 

Expert M&W

 51

 7.7

 

39

 12.8

90

 9.3

 

Witness man

70

10.5

 

22

7.2

92

9.5

 

Witness woman

10

1.5

 

23

7.6

33

3.4

 

Witness M&W

 11

 1.7

 

 12

 3.9

 23

 2.4

 

Institutional

66

9.9

 

27

8.9

93

9.6

 

Total

666

100

 

304

100

970

100

 

 

5. Discussion and conclusions

The results of this study demonstrate the existence of great inequality in the representation of women and men in the Spanish press. The analysis of the non-advertising content of two of the most-read national newspapers in Spain has shown that women are underrepresented at all levels: in their presence in published texts and photographs, as protagonists or central characters of the published content, as authors of the news, and as sources, particularly as expert sources. The under-representation of women in the media has been found in studies conducted in Spain and other countries (Cf. Calvo and Gutiérrez, 2016; Collins, 2011; Mateos de Cabo, Gimeno, Martínez and López, 2014; Matud et al., 2011; Stanley, 2012; WACC, 2015). It has also been confirmed that, similar to what these studies found, the representation of women and men is informed by gender stereotypes that attribute the power and authority to men.

Although classical theories about the differences between women and men in gender roles considered that they were normal and healthy because they reflected the social standards on appropriate conducts for each gender, such assumptions do not have been tested empirically. It has been proposed that the rigid monitoring of such roles may limit the choices and the potential range of behaviours of men and women (Parent and Moradi, 2010). Studies carried out in Spain have found evidence that such monitoring is associated with lower life satisfaction and greater psychological distress (Matud, Bethencourt and Ibáñez, 2014, 2015). Therefore, the stereotyped media representation of women and men and the underrepresentation of women, based on evidence that such representations are relevant in the maintenance of such stereotypes (Coyne, Linder, Rasmussen, Nelson and Collier, 2014) and that the media use is associated with more traditional beliefs about gender roles (Giaccardi, Ward, Seabrook, Manago and Lippman, 2016), is generating and maintaining gender inequality, as well as perpetuating a set of beliefs and practices that pose a threat to the health and well-being of citizens (see, for example, Matud 2017, for a review of gender differences in health). In this regard, there is an outstanding under-representation of women in sports, which can influence the perception of sports as not a “female” feature and influence the lesser involvement of women in such activities, which is an important effect given that physical activity is associated with better mental and physical health (Brown, Pearson, Braithwaite and Biddle, 2013; Reigal, Videra, Parra and Juárez, 2012; Richard et al., 2015). Such an effect can be especially pernicious in childhood and adolescence, because it has been found that the practice of physical activity during these stages is less frequent in girls than in boys (Cf. Khanm, Burtin and Trost, 2017; Matud, Díaz, Bethencourt and Ibáñez, 2016) and it has been recognised that it is important for physical activity to be perceived as a permanent habit (Reigal et al., 2012).

The relevance of the media in the socialisation of gender and equality between women and men has been recognised, not only by the scientific and academic point of view, but also from political and legislative perspectives. Already in 1995, the Fourth World Conference on Women (United Nations, 1995) recognised the relevance of the media in the maintenance of stereotypes and gender inequality, and called on governments and the media to take measures to prevent it. This is also recognised in the Spanish legislation, particularly in the 2004 “Organic Law on Integrated measures against gender violence”, which devotes its chapter II to advertising and the media and makes it obligatory to “encourage the protection and safeguard of equality between men and women” (p. 4217); and the 2007 “Organic Law on the effective equality between women and men”, whose title III is titled “Equality and the media” and states that “all the media will respect equality between women and men” (p. 12619). However, this does not seem to have been enough to make the Spanish press to represent women realistically: they represent half of the population, their education level is equal or even superior to that of men in the tertiary level and their professional and technical training is practically equal to that of men (World Economic Forum, 2015).

* Funded research. This article is a product of the research project titled “Gender and well-being: relevance of personal and social factors on the well-being of women and men” (code: FEM2012-34632), funded by the Department of Scientific and Technical Research. Sub-department of research projects of the National R&D Plan of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain.

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How to cite this article in bibliographies / References

MP Matud Aznar, C Rodríguez-Wangüemert, I Espinosa Morales (2017): “Portrayal of women and men in Spanish press”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 72, pp. 765 to 782.
http://www.revistalatinacs.org/072paper/1191/41en.html
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2017-1191en

Article received on 9 May. Accepted on 8 July.
Published on 14 July 2017.

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