Global media coverage on COVID-19 is significantly lacking the voices of female scientists, physicians and health experts, reports The Washington Post.
The Post cited a recent report from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, which looked at mainstream COVID-19 coverage in the U.S., U.K., Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and India. The report found women were four times less likely to be featured as experts or commentators in media coverage. On average, there were at least three male interviewers for every female one featured in a COVID-19 story, according to the study.
“The pandemic exacerbated the lack of women’s voices,” Dr. Muge Cevik, an infectious diseases and medical virology researcher at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, told The Post. “It just reinforced the prevailing gender norm in which men continue to be allocated to leadership roles, speaking to media.”
Several female scientists also told the publication that women who are vocal on media outlets often face online harassment or doubts about their expertise.
This marginalization of women’s voices reinforces gender stereotypes that men are more reliable during crises, the Gates Foundation study said. It also may influence policymakers’ COVID-19 response efforts, meaning issues or interests that are important to women may be placed on the back burner, reports The Post.
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