Women are underrepresented in both the creation and consumption of newspapers, but this trend is changing fast. The statistics are slowly rising of news consumption by women, especially concerning electronic media. A recent study by ComScore released data suggesting that women stay online longer than men and spend their time chatting and purchasing goods and services. "They're embracing the internet in a way that men are not," says a spokesperson from ComScore.
InPublishing electronic magazine has also seen a trend of women accounting for a larger portion of their readership. In 1999, 62% of American men read a newspaper, while only 44% of women accounted for the American newspapers' readership. Ten years later in 2009, the number of men who read newspaper decreased to 47%, while the percentage of women who reader newspapers remained the same at 44%. This gender gap is decreasing globally, with Japan's gender difference shrinking from 25% to 2% within the same ten year period. Germany is the only country in the developed markets which has a widening of this gap between the genders. Yet Japan has only had a 7% drop in newspaper revenue in the last decade, while Germany's sales have taken a major drop in revenue at 20%.
While there is a general trend of an increase in female readership, certain newspapers seem to benefit more than other publications. Mail Online is a successful electronic publication that targets women as its audience. It appears to recognize the benefits of being women-friendly in an era when women are "the fastest-growing, most advertised attractive audience in town." This strategy seems to work, as Mail Online has seen a 5% growth (from 7% to 12% of UK visitors) within a year.
There is definitely potential to harness the female audience, but it's important to understand want women want to consume. The typical answer is that women want to see more stories on health, families, fashion, and first person narratives, and fewer articles on sports, politics, and "boring arguments." Notably, these answers typically come from male editors. Yet according to a recent chat on PoynterOnline, news organizations need to foster more publications that are for women, by women. This is easier said than done, as women journalists are already underrepresented in the field. Combine the fact that electronic media is becoming the future of journalism, finding women who are adequately trained in computer programming makes it difficult to gain a truly female perspective in newspapers.
Mallary Jean Tenore recently discussed the need for women to combine the fields of computer engineering and journalism to harness their full potential. One of the issues discussed was lack of training in new technologies. A participant in the chat commented "It seems women are less likely to accept the self taught experience as 'experience,' they tend to what to have a degree or certificate to prove themselves but this is not the case from many of the men." Women marketing themselves in journalism was also discerned as a problem, as they do not have many role models to show them how to break the glass ceiling. As a result, women can be marginalized in training and ultimately job opportunities.
The journalism industry could benefit from having a more female perspective in their newspapers.Yet traditionally there have been several instances of not having a diversified newsroom. The National Readership Survey is planned to be released later this month on August 27, and it is predicted that that gender gap with be even closer than previous statistics. As such, It continues to be important to encourage journalism and technology training that is focused specifically towards women. If the newspaper industry is to benefit from its growing women cliental, then the industry must push its own trend of putting women in editorial positions. Likewise, women need to gain the skill set and confidence to realize that they are valid assets in their field.