UK business owners believe women are underrepresented in media

Women mothers precluded with business

Business owners in the UK believe that women are underrepresented in the media, according to new research, with 30% agreeing that the media is not doing enough to address gender imbalance in its reporting.

The research suggests that people running their own business are likely to take a far more pessimistic view of the situation than other professionals – with business owners over 4 times more likely to believe that the media is not doing enough to combat gender misrepresentation than senior-level business decision makers.

Nearly a third of business owners also say that they can’t remember the last time seeing a woman being positioned as an expert commentator in the media.

The research, which explored opinions from across a number of industry sectors and job levels (including graduates, middle managers, and senior-level directors as well as business owners/entrepreneurs),  also revealed respondents’ perceptions of negative stereotyping by gender.

When asked about the terms they most associated with the portrayal of women in the media, business owners were twice as likely to associate female portrayal with ‘bossy’ than ‘leader’.

The research was commissioned by Common Industry to mark the launch of rePResent, its new initiative aimed at tackling imbalanced gender representation in the media.

Commenting on the findings, Harriet Allner, Account Director at Common Industry, said: “We know that gender representation in the media is far from balanced. Things are improving, but if 29% of business owners can’t remember the last time they saw a women positioned as an expert commentator in the media, it goes without saying there’s still a long way to go. As communications experts, we’re in a position to enable that change – after all, we put business founders forward every day to speak on television, radio, across the press and podcasts and much more. We can curate change.”

Common Industry’s rePResent wants to see significant steps taken towards a more balanced representation of gender in the media in the next five years. It aims to drive a positive conversation around gender representation and diversity. By working with female business leaders and business owners, journalists and editors, the initiative aims to ensure communications professionals are part of the solution, closing the circle between businesses and the media.

Allner comments: “At Common Industry, we’re passionate in our belief that for every story of women’s struggle there should be a story of women’s success. That those speaking on behalf of industries, businesses and causes should be representative and equal. But we also know that it’s not just up to journalists and editors – or even the business community. People working in PR – in-house and at agencies – have a huge part to play. That’s why we’re launching rePResent. To help pave the way towards equal representation in the media. To play our part in creating the future. After all: you can’t be what you can’t see.”