In developing countries, too, money that finds its way to women’s hands is better utilized. “[T]he [world’s] poorest families spend about 20 percent of incomes — 10 times as much as on education — on a combination of alcohol, tobacco, prostitution, sugary drinks and candy, and extravagant festivals,” Nicholas Kristof wrote in 2010. “And evidence is very strong, across a range of cultures, that this is largely because the purse strings are controlled by men. When women control the purse strings, money seems more likely to be spent on educating kids and starting businesses.”
In some cases, gender disparity in media is a matter of differing interests in politics and history, of course, not necessarily discrimination. Eighty-seven percent of writers that elect to contribute to Wikipedia are men, according to a January installment of NPR’s On the Media. That personal interests alone explain men outnumbering women 4-to-1 at South Korean news organizations, however, doesn’t seem to hold up.
A number of important economic markets stand out in the IWMF report on gender imbalance in journalism.
In Japan, the disparity is astonishing. While Japanese women have a near-100 percent literacy rate, almost 85 percent of full time journalism employees in Japan are men. The highest levels of news management practically exclude women outright, as Japanese men occupy 98.6 percent of jobs. Japan’s economy is weak, and the country has little room for major industries shutting out women’s talents.
India doesn’t fare any better. While more women in India hold top management positions in journalism than in Japan, they hold just 12 percent of all full time media jobs. India is a country with a history of official corruption and is a nation fighting its way out of poverty. But to do so, it will need more gender parity among its watchdogs.
Not all countries in the IWMF study, though, are underutilizing female journalists. Women in South Africa, for example, hold a slim majority of all full time journalism jobs. The country may have recently gained glory for hosting an all-male World Cup, but women in South Africa hold around 75 percent of senior-level management slots in the news business.
While gender parity may not be as economically consequential for Men’s Health and GQ magazines as it is for GlobalPost and The Times of India, journalism is generally no different from other businesses that are bolstered by fully utilizing female skills and ideas. “[T]here is ample hard evidence to show that tapping women’s talents, in every sphere, will make the world more equitable and more prosperous,” Dychtwald and Larson wrote.
Shut out half the sky and you don’t have as much commerce in the sunshine.