Report: The media’s gender bias extends to climate coverage

Women are quoted on climate change less than 15 percent of the time

Topics: gender bias, Media, Climate Change, Gina McCarthy, Lisa Jackson, , ,

Solely based on the scant amount of time it dedicates to the issue, the media’s coverage of climate change could already be characterized as a major disappointment. When you start looking more closely at whom major news networks and print publications turn to as expert sources, the picture is even more disheartening.

This is according to Media Matters, which delved into its previous reports on media coverage of the U.N. climate reports, and on broadcast news’ general coverage of climate change, to find that when the media does decide to talk about these issues, the conversation is overwhelmingly dominated by men. The gender gap looks something like this:

This is despite the fact that some of the leading figures talking about climate change today are female: They include the U.N. climate chief, Christiana Figueres, along with the current and former heads of the EPA, Gina McCarthy and Lisa Jackson.

Of course, as Media Matters acknowledges, this representation problem goes beyond the media: There’s a significant female brain drain in the climate sciences. In many cases, the biases are subtle, but it doesn’t help that Rush Limbaugh has dismissed two prominent female climate scientists as “babes,” or that women targeted for their climate-based research are often the recipients of gender-specific abuse.

Allison Chin, the former president of the Sierra Club, pointed out one of the most unfortunate implications of this disparity: It’s women who are going to disproportionately suffer many of the effects of climate change. Chin told Media Matters:

The gender imbalance among those quoted on the climate crisis is striking, particularly since women around the world are more vulnerable to the dangers of climate disruption and among the most active in the movement for solutions. Globally, existing inequalities give women less access and less control over resources and make them more susceptible to the worst effects of extreme weather. The last thing the media should do is amplify that divide by only covering one set of perspectives.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...