Robyn Benson, PSAC

Women and current events



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A comprehensive study indicates that women appear to be less interested than men in current events. Perhaps the above photo (G8 leaders, Germany’s Angela Merkel third from left, can you spot her?) provides an explanatory clue.

A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Let me offer considerably fewer.

Men and women live in a complex, ever-changing society. A hundred years ago in Canada, women didn’t have the right to vote. Until 84 years ago, we weren’t even considered persons under the law. Only 25 years ago did we win reproductive freedom—and that battle may not be over.

This is an historical blink of an eye. We may have come a long way, but there’s a lot of road left. Assumptions, values, roles and stereotypes still affect everyone’s thinking. There remain, after all of this time, spheres where men predominate, and one of those spheres happens to be politics. Probably most of what we call current events is political in nature. Certainly the questions in the study ran that way.

Anyone who thinks machismo is dead should spend a little time watching Question Period in the House of Commons. To put it politely, as I must, it’s generally a point-scoring contest, complete with bluster, extravagant gestures, loud heckling and raised shoulders.

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Take me out to that ball game? Only if it’s a job requirement, which it obviously is in my case.

Don’t get me wrong. Compared to only a few decades ago, women are doing better in politics these days, and shining in that parallel activity, sports. But this is too often what they must put up with. In 2013.

Politics is still a relatively hostile environment, in other words. So much of it is macho sound and fury, often signifying nothing. And then there are the media:

News coverage is heavily weighted toward male sources even in countries such as the UK and Australia where gender equality ratings are relatively high. Overall, women are only interviewed or cited in 30 percent of TV news stories in the ten nations.

In all ten countries [covered by the study], female sources tend only to appear in longer news items or articles and are preferred for soft news topics such as family, lifestyle and culture.


Small wonder so many women simply tune out. Besides, they probably have work to do.

[Photos: Matt Dunham, AP; Chris Wattie, Reuters]


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This page contains a single entry by Robyn Benson, PSAC published on July 10, 2013 2:50 PM.

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