Across media and business, the disparity in representation for women only grows when you view the gender gap through a multicultural lens. The gap still exists despite knowing that women are more likely to carry more of the household responsibilities, homeschooling and childcare responsibilities, make the daily purchasing decisions, be less financially secure, and feel more isolated. The pandemic has only compounded the pressure women are facing today, threatening to roll back the progress we’ve made.
This year, we #choosetochallenge the gender stereotypes and messages that are shaping these cultural norms, and we are inviting everyone to do the same. Our goal is to help the media industry creative inclusive content, powered by diverse content creators not just because it matters ethically, but also because it matters to the viewers who are ultimately your consumers.
The Female Economy
Globally, women’s engagement in the labor market lags behind men by 23 percentage points according to the World Economic Forum. Yet, women’s spending power and influence should not be underestimated.
IT’S TIME TO BE SEEN
Representation matters. The way women are portrayed on screen can affect how they are treated and understood, as well how they see themselves. In the workplace, lack of senior visibility means lack of job advancement, fewer corporate resources and lower financial security.
Women make up 52% of the U.S. population, yet they only have 38% of the share of screen. The visibility of women differs across platforms, but streaming video-on-demand comes closest to delivering gender parity at 48.9% representation. A deeper dive into gender by identity groups shows that the platform represented LGBTQ, East Asian, Black and White Females at or above parity. Considering the growing adoption of streaming across all age groups, these diverse programs are able to increasingly wield more power to influence the way people think, how they form their identity, and what they think of others. Therefore, it’s not only important that those in the media represent the diversity of our world on screen, it’s imperative they do it accurately.
While there have been more roles for women on TV that break traditional stereotypes, there’s still plenty of work to be done to show them in more collaborative, leadership and financially independent themes. The prominent narratives featuring women are still more likely to be centered around household life and friends such as friends, husbands, fights and arguments, houses, and family life.
When the pandemic hit and sent many workers home, it impacted women disproportionately. While many companies worked to accommodate their workers, women were disproportionately dealing with caretaking, childcare and homeschooling responsibilities, managing the “always on” culture, and fighting burnout. As the pandemic wears on, many of these challenges continue to loom large. The 2020 Women in the Workplace study states suggest that these COVID-related challenges could cause as many as two million women to leave the workplace. Gracenote Inclusion Analytics shows that women already make up more than have of adults who are temporarily employed.
In June 2020, a Nielsen survey of employees working from home showed that nearly a quarter of women, 23%, felt somewhat disengaged or disengaged compared to just 15% of men. While many companies have put in place resources and policies to support employees during COVID-19, many of these same challenges have carried over to 2021. Companies have an impetus—perhaps now more than ever—to work to ensure that there are best-practices implemented to keep a diverse workforce engaged as a way to foster productivity.
Black consumers are the largest ethnic group watching live TV, playing video games, streaming audio and consuming media across devices. Yet, Black women are being left off the screen. Compared to their population estimates, women are underrepresented across broadcast and cable. A deeper look at the reality, news and weather, drama and comedy genres shows that across all black women were underrepresented. What’s more is that the narratives surrounding women of color most commonly include themes of dysfunction, emotional, personal relationships, suspenseful, challenging, melodramatic, police, murder, cities and pursuits.
As Black women look to find themselves and role models for their children on screen, especially during a time of intense social activism, they’re leaning into the stories that reflect their reality most accurately. It is critical to expand the roles of Black women and Black men because storytelling helps to educate, and education helps change stereotypes.
HOW TO REACH WOMEN
Women are savvy consumers of news, information and other media across devices. They also make up 45% of all podcast consumers over-indexing in podcasts about family, health, the arts, true crime and more. No matter what media they’re consuming, truth, transparency and real representation matter.