Take a Picture
Louise Livesey // 18 February 2009
My previous entry got me thinking about photo’s and who gets included and who doesn’t. So I did a quick content analysis of the Guardian’s The World in 24 Hours section. I did a basic gender content analysis and here’s what I found:
Sports only sets
Of the 50 photo’s in these sets seven had women in them, 43 didn’t. Of those seven three were skiers, two skaters, one tennis player and a dog-sledder. The only picture of someone falling over was of a woman skier.
Of the 106 photo’s* 25 showed women compared to 67 which showed only men. Six were of crowd scenes were gender was impossible to distinguish and eight were mixed scenes. When I looked at the activities or contexts of the women seven were fashion related (models), five showed manual labour by women of colour abroad (usually in the developing world), four showed women as mothers, three showed women as brides, three showed women worshipping and another two showed women as fans of specific men. The others showed women as sexual objects (mardi gras costuming), as a medical patient, dog-sledding, skating and cooking. Men were shown in a vast array of occupations and settings.
One photograph was labelled as “boys playing marbles” and actually showed boys, girls and older women. Another was labelled as “students protesting” and actually showed all girls.
What conclusions would I draw? If we were aliens deciding what the planet was like I guess I’d surmise that there were only about one-third women to two-third men on this planet. I’d also surmise their roles were to be adorned or, if they weren’t white, to do heavy labour. If we read this sociologically or anthropologically, it suggests a distinct lack of gender parity in our representations of contemporary life – women are under-represented and are seen in far fewer roles than their male counterparts. The mislabelling of photographs served to explicitly erase women from them which is additionally worrying.
*I didn’t count any not showing a human figure.