The Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media

On September 13, the Center for International Media Assistance and the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) hosted a panel discussion on The Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media. The event featured the report’s author, Carolyn M. Byerly, a professor at Howard University’s department of journalism, as well as the Washington Post’s Shirley M. Carswell and Mónica Villamizar of al-Jazeera English, who served as responders. CIMA advisory council member Suzanne Garment moderated the event.

In her introductory remarks, Liza Gross, the executive director of IWMF, which commissioned the report, stressed the need for greater representation of women in the news media and the importance of gathering comprehensive data on gender equity within media organizations.

Presenting the report’s findings, Byerly noted that globally, researchers found that men occupy 73 percent of the top management positions. Among the ranks of reporters, men hold nearly two-thirds of the jobs, as compared to 36 percent held by women. Among senior professionals, however, Byerly stated, women are nearing parity, with 41 percent of the newsgathering, editing, and writing jobs.

Byerly summarized findings for three regions in her presentation, including:

  • Eastern Europe, where women were at or above parity with men in most management and professional levels and occupied one-third of those in governance;
  • Nordic Europe, where women are near parity in senior professional and middle management positions, while 36 percent are in governance and 27 percent in top management; and
  • The Americas, where women are near parity in junior and senior professional and senior management levels, occupying 30 percent of the top management level.

Carswell and Villamizar agreed with the finding that glass ceilings hinder women’s advancement in the news media, particularly between middle and senior levels of management. Carswell and Villamizar illustrated the frustrations and challenges for female reporters, including stereotyping in receiving assignments, and they challenged media organizations to consider experience, knowledge, and proximity to the story–rather than gender–in determining how reporters are assigned to cover the news.

During the discussion, audience members raised the issue of the impact of digital media in removing gender barriers. Byerly noted that the report raised numerous questions for further research, particularly for digital media, and encouraged stakeholders to consider commissioning additional studies for deeper examination.

The Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media from CIMA on Vimeo.

Click here to download a copy of the presentation made by the report author, Carolyn Byerly.


Carolyn M. Byerly

Report Author

Shirley M. Carswell

The Washington Post

Liza Gross

International Women’s Media Foundation

Mónica Villamizar

al-Jazeera English

Moderated by:

Suzanne Garment

CIMA Advisory Council

About the speakers:

Carolyn M. Byerly is professor in the department of journalism and a member of the mass communications and media studies graduate faculty at Howard University’s School of Communications. She teaches research methods, communications theory, feminism and media, development communication, and political communication. Her research includes the relationship of women, racial, and sexual minorities to the news media, including a study on reshaping the Federal Communications Commission policy to expand media ownership by women and people of color. Byerly earned her doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Washington and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Boulder. Before entering academic life, she worked as a journalist, government public information officer, and director of non-profit organizations. She is the co-author of Women and Media: A Critical Introduction and the co-editor of Women and Media: International Perspectives, among other works.

Shirley M. Carswell is a professional journalist and manager with more than 20 years of experience in one of the nation’s leading newsrooms. As deputy managing editor of the Washington Post since 2009, she is a member of the senior leadership team that sets coverage and staffing priorities for the newspaper and website. In addition to managing the budget, daily operations, and news personnel, Carswell oversees special events planning and projects, such as a recent newsroom redesign and renovation. She worked as an editor at newspapers in Richmond, VA, and Pontiac and Detroit, MI, before moving to the Washington Post in 1988 to join the Metro copy desk. She became the Post’s assistant managing editor (AME) for planning and administration, with responsibilities including the newsroom’s multimillion-dollar operating budget and its information technology and administrative support staffs. At the time, she was the youngest person ever promoted to the AME level at the Post and the first African-American woman. Carswell earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Howard University, and is a graduate of the Dow-Jones Newspaper Fund editing program and the Advanced Executive Program at Northwestern University’s Media Management Center. She is a member of the American Society of News Editors and the National Association of Black Journalists. Carswell was a 2004 McCormick Tribune Fellow.

Liza Gross is the executive director of the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). Before assuming her position at the IWMF, Gross was managing editor/presentation and operations for the Miami Herald, where she was responsible for the newspaper’s visual appearance, daily production, and weekend news sections. Gross, who has almost 30 years of experience in journalism and communications, is a former executive managing editor of El Nuevo Día, the largest circulation daily newspaper in Puerto Rico, and a former publisher of Éxito, the Spanish-language daily of the Chicago Tribune. A native of Argentina, Gross was an instructor and editor for the Latin American Journalism Program, an educational initiative of Florida International University in Miami. She also served as a reporter and editor on the Latin America desk of the Associated Press in New York City, managing editor of Hispanic magazine, and executive editor of Times of the Americas, a Washington-based bimonthly covering Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mónica Villamizar is an award-winning correspondent for al-Jazeera English based in Washington, DC. She earned a master’s degree in political science from the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris. Villamizar speaks English, French, and Japanese, in addition to her native Spanish. She has covered the Guantanamo military tribunals, the Haiti earthquake, the Colombian drug war, Mexican border issues, and the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. She received a Premio Nacional de Periodismo Simón Bolívar award for best TV feature or report, for a series of reports on South Africa’s peace process in 2006.

About the moderator:

Suzanne Garment is counsel and consultant to non-profit organizations and a visiting scholar at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, where she is writing, with Leslie Lenkowsky, a book on the politics of American philanthropy. She served as special counsel to New York Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch and is currently counsel to the Task Force on the State Budget Crisis, co-chaired by Ravitch and former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. Prior to her practice of law, she was a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She was also associate editor of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, where she wrote the weekly column “Capital Chronicle.” Garment served as special assistant to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel P. Moynihan. She has taught politics and public policy at Harvard University and Yale University. Garment is the author of Scandal: The Culture of Mistrust in American Politics and Decision to Prosecute: Organization and Public Policy in the U.S. Antitrust Division, as well as numerous articles, op-ed pieces, and reviews. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe College, a master’s degree from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, a doctorate in political science at Harvard University, and juris doctorate and master of laws’ degrees in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center.

The Center for International Media Assistance, an initiative of the National Endowment for Democracy, brings together a broad range of media experts with the goal of strengthening the support for and improving the effectiveness of media assistance programs by providing information, building networks, and conducting research on the indispensable role independent media play in creating sustainable democracies around the world.

The International Women’s Media Foundation, founded in 1990, is a vibrant global network dedicated to strengthening the role of women in the news media worldwide as a means to further freedom of the press. The IWMF network includes women and men in the media in more than 130 countries worldwide. For more information, visit