It’s a widely accepted falsehood that women talk more than men. When really in any other context except social one-on-one interactions between a man and a woman, women take up less than their fair share of conversation. Men’s voices dominate in courtrooms, in offices, at dinner parties, PTA meetings, and unsurprisingly in our parliaments.
But here’s the thing.
Even when women are speaking the media barely reports it.
New data released by Streem and published in digital newsletter The Squiz today, reveals just how gender-biased news reporting of the federal election has been. Of the top ten most quoted politicians in digital and print articles, there is not a single woman.
When you dig deeper into the data it reveals that deputy leader of the Labor Party, Tanya Plibersek, is the most quoted woman, coming in at number 12 overall. The media have deemed the person most likely to be our next Deputy Prime Minister as less worthy of hearing from than Angus Taylor or Simon Birmingham. Two men that most Australians would struggle to pick in of a line up.
Not a single woman from the Liberal or National parties scrapes into even the top 20 most quoted politicians in this campaign. And yes, the extension of that fact is the views of women ministers in the current government (who are admittedly, few and far between) have basically been deemed unworthy of press coverage.
The often quoted, Marian Wright Edelman, was an American civil right activist who said that “you cannot be what you cannot see”. Well, equally you cannot be what you cannot hear.
Australian women report being increasingly disengaged from the political process and most would recoil at the suggestion they consider running for office. Women are more likely to pursue action on issues they believe in through community groups or not-for-profit organisations. Politics, they think, just isn’t the right avenue to make change – especially if you’re female.
The events of this last term of government have only cemented the political arena as a place unwelcoming of women. The sexist treatment of Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and the shockingly low number of votes received by the publicly popular Julie Bishop in the Liberal leadership contest, are just two examples that come to mind.
Women are rightly demanding that our parliament does better when it comes to policy that affect women, and the treatment of women who help make that policy. But we need media to come to the table as well. If Australians don’t hear from and see our women decision-makers, we’re unlikely to hold them in high esteem and to demand that more of them be elected.
Here at Future Women we are 100 percent committed to amplifying women’s voices and providing a platform for women politicians to campaign on issues that matter to them.
We hope that you’ll continue to stand with us while we do so.
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