Take a Picture

// 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.

General Sets

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.

Comments From You

sianmarie // Posted 18 February 2009 at 5:39 pm

hi there

bristol feminist network and bristol fawcett society have done a project on the visibility and invisibility of women in the media – you can see all our findings on the respective websites. we looked at women in newspapers, on kid’s tv, on facebook ads, in lad’s mags and did a guerilla nutz film where we flyered lad’s mags.

it was a really interesting project and we found out lots of fascinating things – i’d really recommend having a look at our findings (shameless self promotion!!)

Ellie // Posted 19 February 2009 at 2:14 pm

That’s really interesting to hear, I’ll have a look at the Bristol research in a minute, I just wanted to say this reminded me of some educational research I read in which a teacher filmed herself teaching her class for an hour and was consciously trying to divide her time equally between boys and girls the whole time. When she viewed the video later though she found she’d dedicated about two thirds of the time to boys, despite feeling at the time as though she was spending far too much time with the girls.

I think it’s incredibly sad that girls and women miss out on so much attention in all areas of life and yet most people don’t even notice becasue females are granted lower status than males. It’s good to see people actually drawing attention to this.

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds