A Noticeable Absence: Women in the Media on IWD

Yesterday, March 8, was International Women’s Day (IWD). On this day, groups around the world celebrated women in general and specifically, our political and social accomplishments. Happily, I follow feminist blogs and Twitter accounts that alerted me to this fact. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have known about it.

I checked the New York Times yesterday morning to see if they had any coverage of the holiday. At that time, I didn’t see anything. A search of the site today yielded mentions in a couple of articles: Nick Christof’s op-ed “Do Women Leaders Matter?” and a few by the Associated Press. One or two additional mentions were in the previous day’s news.

As far as I know, none of these articles made it to the printed copy of the newspaper. I also needed to do a search to find any of the articles (possibly with the exception of the Kristof piece). It seems that only people who already knew about IWD read about it.

Okay, I thought, this is disappointing. However, there are a lot of days that commemorate one group or another. Maybe it was unreasonable for me to expect the New York Times to cover the holiday in depth?

Out of curiosity, I searched for the term “women” on the online front page. Nothing. “Woman” yielded one business article about the chairwoman of the SEC. What if I just looked for articles relevant to women (e.g. specifically about “women’s issues”), but that might not include the term “women” in the title? A quick scan of the headlines again left me empty-handed. Other major newspapers (USA Today, The Washington Post, The LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal) yielded similar results.

So I ask: mainstream media, why do you ignore women, and the issues that are important to us? Why didn’t you celebrate women more publicly yesterday?

You may argue that as half of the population, any news article relates to women in some way. But as that same half of the population, don’t we deserve articles that relate to us specifically? Why aren’t “women’s issues” considered news unless they're politicized?

Much of this might stem from another problem discussed recently: the lack of female authors of newspaper articles and editorials. Not to mention the lack of female editors, as Katha Pollitt notes. Editors say they’re working on the problem, but there’s really no excuse. We need to see more news about, for, and by women. If we did, we’d have a lot more to celebrate.