It can be a challenge to better balance the photos and news coverage of women, but it’s not insurmountable, and the situation should be much better than it is

By Sylvia Stead for the Globe and Mail

Images can be more powerful than even a thousand words.

I often hear from readers about photos in The Globe and Mail: from those who believe that some photos show too much violence or too much of the same old thing; from unhappy readers who note when the Sports section is all men for too many days in a row; from happy readers when they see women on a Sports front. I myself wonder, sometimes, why a photo accompanying a story about something like the unemployment rate couldn’t have been of a woman rather than a man.

So, prodded by the fact that International Women’s Day falls in March, I decided to tally the number of photos for the past month by gender, to see whether Globe coverage is reflecting the role of women in society – and, if not, what the paper could do better. I found, on a daily average, including Saturday, that there are 19 photos of men or groups of mostly men in the paper; there are 7 of women. The Saturday Globe, taken alone, is much more equitable: The average is 41 photos of men, and 34 of women. (All such numbers exclude head shots of our columnists.)

One major reason for the weekday/weekend split: Sports skews the Monday-to-Friday numbers. (On Saturdays, because there are more – and bigger – sections throughout the paper, Sports has less influence on the total mix.) A highly visual section, Sports includes lots of photos of professional games and male athletes. On an average day in Sports, there are seven photos of men and just 0.5 of women.

It can be a challenge to better balance the photos and news coverage of women. But it’s not insurmountable, and the situation should be much better than it is. There were clearly efforts to do better with coverage of women through photos on several days in March. On International Women’s Day itself, and in the days before and after, The Globe featured front-page and section-front photos of women, including young women leaders in Parliament; an all-women Air India flight crew; mostly women admiring the statue of the young girl facing the bull on Wall Street.

Continue reading this story on The Globe and Mail website, where it was first published.