Laura Ahearn, "The Post’s front page needs more women" [Letter to the Editor]. The Washington Post 11/12/2013.
One morning over breakfast this past summer, Mellie, my 9-year-old daughter, looked at The Post, turned to me and said, “Mommy, why aren’t there any pictures of women on the front page of the newspaper?”
“Good question,” I answered.
I took a deep breath and explained that only about 10 percent of the world’s countries currently have female leaders, and in our own country, fewer than 20 percent of our national lawmakers are women. In business, there is an even greater gender gap: Only 21 of the Fortune 500 companies (not even 5 percent) have female chief executives. So, I told Mellie, as long as the majority of the world’s political and business leaders are men, it makes some sense that the front page would feature photos of those people.
But how often, Mellie wondered, were there absolutely no photos of girls or women on the front page?
To answer this question, Mellie and I decided to conduct a study. For the entire month of August, we pored over the front page of The Post, and Mellie filled in a chart.
Our results showed that during August, The Post’s front page featured 78 photos of males, 19 photos of females and 21 photos of males and females together. For eight days, not a single female was pictured in any of the photos on the front page. And above the fold each day of that month, only three photos depicted just females.
“I kind of thought it would be lopsided,” Mellie said, “but not that lopsided.”
The invisibility of women is clear. If we want our daughters to see themselves as newsmakers — whether as politicians, scientists, artists, athletes or business leaders — and if we want to create a more egalitarian world, then placing more images of women on the front page of The Post is a first step toward achieving that goal.
And The Post might even sell a few more newspapers.
Laura Ahearn, Arlington