While investigating stories in the newspapers for the first blog, I noticed that there was also gender bias in the pictures. I suspected that photos of males were picked to illustrate who was relevant to the story whereas photos of females were chosen for their attractiveness or youth.
I decided to do another investigation into the same newspapers (bought on 13th of April 2010), this time focussing on the photos…
I broke the information down into four observations:
- Whether the person in the photo was young or not. I took as ‘young’ anyone under 40.
- Whether the person had posed for the photo – ie was still and looking into the camera or clearly lit and positioned for a photo.
- If the person was doing a job, dressed in work clothes, holding instruments of work or actually busy doing the work.
- Whether the photo featured was a Type A or Type B person:
Type A –Person featured has styled/glossy hair, symmetrical features, which are chiselled if male. A type A person has clear skin, few wrinkles and no facial deformities. Noses, eyebrows, gums and teeth should not be overly prominent – ie no large or hooked noses, no bushy or straggly eyebrows, while lips and eyes should not be unusually small. If physical build is visible then a type A person is slender or/and curvy (if female) and athletically built or tall and slim (if male). A type A image features a person not gurning, ie facial expression is smiling or showing little distortion. A person can also be classified as Type A if the text accompanying the photo refers to the subject as attractive.
Type B –The person in the photo has some physical feature that disallows their inclusion in the Type A category, they may be overweight, have lank, unstyled hair or simply be pulling a face that distorts their features. Eg anyone balding is a type B.
Note: I only used photos that illustrated the stories, not the photos of journalists that appear next to the column they’ve written and not photos in adverts.
- In the photos there was an overall bias towards males. 66% of people in photographs of all papers were male and every paper featured more males than females.
- The biggest gap was in The Independent which had 73% male to 27% female and the smallest gap was the Daily Mail which had 59% to 41% female.
- On the whole the gap between male and female representation was noticeably smaller than that for stories, perhaps suggesting that women should be more seen than heard.
Percentage of Males and Females in Stories and Pictures
With job related photos in the red top tabloids there wasn’t much difference, however in the Mail, Express and Metro (M/E/M) there were twice as many men doing work than women and in the broadsheets (The Times, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian) there were six times as many.
Graph to Show Number of Working Males Compared with Working Females
People Posing for the Photograph
Although the differences in the total number of men and women posed in photos were not dramatic enough to be relevant, because there were fewer pictures of females than males, the percentage of females who are posed is nearly twenty percent higher than the percentage of males who are posed.
Graph Showing % of Females Posing and % of Males Posing
Age and Type B
Comparing the total numbers of older and Type B males and females in all the papers there were over three times as many older men (534) as older women (161) and nearly four times as many Type B men (684) as Type B women (182).
Broken down into the three paper types, the broadsheets had the biggest difference.
Showing percentages of all people in photos
Finally, I put all these statistics together to see how many men there are who are older, Type B and unposed compared with the same for women. With this I’m hoping to give an overview of how relevant the looks are of both genders – if it doesn’t matter what a person looks like, only who they are, then the photo is more likely to be unposed and looks and age should be irrelevant.
The Guardian is by far the least biased, with only three times more Type B, unposed, older males than females. The Sun had the biggest difference with only one unposed, older, Type B female and 24 similar males.
Graph to Compare Numbers of Unposed, Type B, Older Males with Females