Thursday, March 7, 2019
On 8 March, International Women’s Day, Free Press Unlimited is organizing Move4Women: various initiatives in 15 countries across the world to improve the position of women in the media. In some of these countries, like Bangladesh, Nepal, and Indonesia, men are taking the lead. Because there, too, people realise that having too few women in the media presents information in a one-dimensional way and limits role models for young people. Sadly, things in the Netherlands are not much better.

Free Press Unlimited commissioned research firm Kien to conduct a poll among the Dutch population about this issue. The poll reveals that half of all Dutch people feel women should have equal representation in the media and managers in the sector should make more of an effort to achieve this.

Self censorship

Internationally and in the Netherlands, physical threats and online violence are some of the reasons fewer women than men work in the media – these factors drive female creators to withdraw from public view or censor themselves. Free Press Unlimited believes media executives should do more to reverse this trend. Under-representation of women in the media leads to a largely male interpretation of information, resulting in a skewed portrayal of reality. Moreover, the number of female experts appearing in the media is far below the mark. This cuts young people off from role models they can relate to.

Male domination

The conclusion that women are poorly represented in the Dutch media is confirmed by a long list of studies. The broadcasting ombudsman remarked that Dutch talk shows are dominated by older white men, and broadcasting magazine Spreekbuis noted that the proportion of women on the radio has stagnated at thirty percent. Dutch media often get their foreign news from press agencies. Surveys of two of these agencies, Reuters and AP, show that seventy percent of the news is written and selected by men.