Saturday, November 2, 2013

No Good Answer to Daughter's Question: "Why Aren't There More Women on the Front Page?"

Nine-year-old Mellie Ahearn, reading The Washington Post over breakfast (way to go, Mellie!), turned to her mother and asked, "Mommy, why aren't there more pictures of women on the front page of the newspaper?"  This conversation, recounted on today's Washington Post reader feedback page, led to Mellie and her mother, Laura, conducting a study on the frequency with which the Post featured photos of women and girls on the front page.  The results:  20% for the month of August, their study period.

"I kind of thought it would be lopsided," Mellie said, "but not that lopsided."

This kind of continuing imbalance is damaging to the way girls see themselves, Laura Ahearn says -- and it can't help the Post with selling newspapers to women.  Indeed, women, as a proportion of newspaper readership, have been declining for years.

Read about the Ahearns' enterprising study here.


  1. Thanks so much for posting this! Just to correct the record, though, my daughter's name is Mellie Black. The Post got her last name wrong -- making an erroneous assumption that is a symptom of the very gender bias we were pointing out. They were supposed to run a correction today (one week later), but they didn't. We will be following up…

    Also, it may interest this blog's readers to note that in the Post's masthead appear to be (going by the conventional gendering of names) only 2 women out of the 16 senior editors and other positions. One of the two women is Katherine Weymouth, the Publisher and CEO; the other is Usha Chaudhary, Finance and Admin/CFO. None of the editors appear to be women.

    Laura Ahearn

  2. Also, just FYI -- that's not a picture of my daughter. :-)

    1. Laura, thanks for commenting on this, and for writing your letter to the Post in the first place!