The number of women reading newspapers has steadily grown over the years. They have become "the fastest-growing, most advertised attractive audience in town." A study from ComScore noted, "They're embracing the internet in a way that men are not." A new survey by Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism shows that they also make up the majority of readers for 8 out of the top 25 news sites.
The 8 websites are (in order from highest percentage to lowest) Topix, Aol News, Examiner.com, Bing News, Yahoo, MSNBC, ABC News, and Huffington Post. Poynter posted a chart of the numbers here.
Many of the top sites like Aol News, Bing, and Yahoo are multi-service providers. Also at the top were local news aggregators Topix and Examiner.com. Topix had the highest different in percentages, at 56.2 percent female and 43.8 percent male readership. Business sites, such as Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, tended to be more male-dominated. The sites received 63.7% and 60.9% male readership respectively.
Online news sites attracted a more educated audience. 25 to 29 percent of top news site users had a bachelor's degree. Users with some college made up 24 to 27 percent.
This same study also showed that Google is the biggest news site referrer and that many news sites depend on casual viewers. However, the male and female breakdown of casual viewers and power viewers wasn't reported. As PEJ noted, "The NetView data does not breakdown the behavior patterns like time spent or return visits for the various demographic groups. It would be interesting to know, for example, if women tended to return more times over the course of a month..."
The continuing male majority of readers on top news sites might be a result of the male-dominated journalism industry. Men still hold the majority of both journalism jobs and upper management positions. The media's treatment of women has been criticized, and has been credited with harming the campaigns of several women candidates. As a result, groups started NameItChangeIt to combat this prejudice.
Some publications have begun to focus more attention on female readers. Tina Brown's first edition of Newsweek featured Hilary Clinton. Others have started women-oriented websites. Business Insider announced that one of its former reporters launched two of these sites recently. Both are targeted towards professional women: one for working mothers and the other for younger professionals. The sites focus more on content and creating a dialogue to gain a faithful audience.
This follows Brown's assessment of how to gain female readership. "Men want to know what happened. Women want to know what really happened. It's not about 'women's content;' it's the way you edit and assign."