Women in Print – some (vital) statistics?

Last week, this tweet from Noirín Hegarty (formerly editor of Sunday Tribune and Independent.ie) piqued my interest;

“ Nine pix of men on front of @irishtimes plus all male pix on review, mag and sports fronts. What a message to women after Dail/Seanad week!”

So – how are women in Irish newsprint being represented? Is there balance? Are those working there ‘leaning in’, meeting/breaking glass ceilings, needing gender quotas? All topics du jour…

Well, I bought copies of the Irish Times and Irish Independent two days ago, 24th July 2013. I (manually, non scientifically) analysed them to see what the gender balance was, regarding

  • Photos used
  • Article writers used

Below are the results. I am not comparing the two papers directly, merely choosing them as the two I read/buy most often.

A tiny, one day snapshot is proof of nothing. I also don’t try to draw any conclusions. I just thought it might be an interesting exercise…

Irish Independent

Photos Used 24.07.13

Category                                                Men                           Women

News/Opinion/Comment                  48                              14

Social/Arts/Living                               13                              13

Business                                                   15                                8

Sport                                                         32                                2

Ads                                                            9                                  9

Writer photo                                        12                                5

Totals                                                     129                               51

Written content 24.07.2013

Gender                                              Men                             Women

Articles written by                                        66                                            47

Letters to Editor from                                   5                                              1

Irish Times

Photos Used 24.07.13

Category                                                     Men                      Women

News/Opinion/Comment                       31                                  19

Social/Arts/Living                                    4                                       9

Business                                                        10                                       1

Sport                                                              36                                       3

Ads                                                                     2                                       5

Writer photo                                              13                                        6

Totals                                                            96                                     43

Written content 24.07.2013

Gender                                            Men                         Women

Articles written by                                     64                                       29

Letters to Editor from                               15                                         4

Notes, Caveats, Disclaimers

  • I did this in front of the TV, so I can only promise 99.99% accuracy. After that, I’m blaming Vincent Browne…
  • ‘Men and Women’ photo categories include children and babies (one called George made a few appearances, given the date)
  • Photos of crowds – I only counted any person(s) named underneath ie who the photo was ostensibly about.
  • Where gender was unclear eg fancy dress, I didn’t include it
  • Article or letter writers are only counted where named ie lots of content is not credited, some letters are names with-held or initials only
  • I had all these stats presented in beautiful Bar Chart format in Word – frustratingly, I couldn’t get them to paste in here. Grrr!


Ok, I said I wouldn’t draw any. But the headlining facts are;

  • 225 photos of men, 94 of women
  • 130 articles written by men, 76 by women
  • 68 photos of men in sport, 5 of women.

Finally, although I didn’t subdivide the male/female written content by category, I couldn’t help noticing the following. Of 35 Sport articles credited, one was by a woman. Louise Taylor (Irish Times, soccer), take a bow.

I certainly did find it an interesting exercise. Thoughts, anyone?


Sean Gallagher – the S.A.D. facts

(UPDATE: I wrote this entry on the afternoon of the now infamous Frontline programme. Three hours is a long time in politics…) 

Why is Sean Gallagher leading the race to the Aras? It’s a question that’s certainly perplexing Twitter and many a conversation…

Why are voters seemingly happy to disregard his Fianna Fail past, questions about his business record, his (quite startling) assertion that ‘nothing springs to mind’ when asked about the most important legislation to have come before the Oireachtas in the recent past….

The role of Irish President has very limited powers. The election is more of a popularity or personality contest. Image is therefore very important.

Could it then be down to some or all of these three areas – his Spouse, his Age and his Demeanour? Or SAD for short.

SPOUSE. If ‘appearances-with-partner’ formed part of the race, Sean Gallagher would win hands down. His wife Trish O’Connor is always by his side, always supporting him. They present a public image of a smiling and united couple. They also look stylish and immaculately turned out on every occasion. People subconsciously warm to all of this. Think Barack & Michelle on the campaign trail. More importantly, think Martin supporting Mary McAleese over the last 14 years, as was well commented on during the recent ‘Constant President’ documentary.

But how have the other candidates fared in this regard? 5 out of 6 are also married;

Gay Mitchell, Michael D, Mary Davis;  – limited appearances with their spouses.

Dana; sparse – apart from his ‘heroic driver who saved us from being murdered’ role.

Martin McGuinness; – his wife is rarely if ever seen in public, a hangover from NI security situation (similar to Gerry Adams wife).

David Norris doesn’t have a partner currently, as far as I know.

AGE – Gallagher (49) is the only candidate yet to celebrate his 60th birthday. It makes him the youngest candidate by some distance. If youthful vim and vigour tick boxes for voters, than Gallagher steps closest to that mark. Age should not be a factor, but for anyone who does declare Higgins too old, Sean Gallagher represents the most youthful alternative.

DEMEANOUR – his manner throughout the campaign has remained positive. He consistently presents a genial front, and has resisted the urge to snipe, backbite and even backstab, as evidenced in some of the TV debates. Other candidates did themselves no favours in this regard, particularly Mitchell and McGuinness, who though they have dropped it since, have done themselves damage. Had there been TV debates in the McAleese era, one simply couldn’t imagine Mary engaging in anything like this type of negative behaviour. By rising above it and maintaining an air of serenity, Sean Gallagher has come across as, well, more ‘presidential’.

Sean Gallagher has, I feel, studied the Presidential optics carefully, knows what his trump cards are, and is playing them cleverly.

S.A.D. But true.

A Masterpiece is Born

Channel 4’s latest series of ‘One Born Every Minute’ started last week. It’s a forty camera Fly on the Wall documentary, filmed in the labour wards of  The Princess Anne Maternity Hospital in Southhampton.

Despite the obvious fact that it’s how every one of us arrived into the world, it is not always deemed comfortable viewing. If Twitter is any guide, its delivery scenes are met with feelings of either glowing warmth or horrified revulsion, in equal measure. And not necessarily along a male vs female divide, or uninitiated vs been there done that lines either. I suppose you can only gauge your own reaction by watching it. For my own part, I will cry gushingly at every birth moment shown, just like I did in the last series.

Watching last night brought to mind another birth related scene I came across recently. I was wandering nonchalantly through a stationery shop, when the following image on a card literally stopped me in my tracks.

This is a painting simply called ‘ Madre’ by a Spanish artist called Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, painted in 1895. I could not take my eyes off it.

It is just such an intimate portrait, brimming with the emotion of such a tender moment.

But also, just how incredibly comfortable does that bed look?! Remembering when I came home from hospital with my first born, all I wanted was my own bed. Away from the din, the smells and the rubber mattresses of the hospital.

And they say newborns don’t smile, but in the close up of this image, you can just about see the faintest of tiny smiles on the infants face, like the precious little twitching ones they do while sleeping. And doesn’t his mother looks just blissfully shattered and happy?

This image completely sums up for me the total exhaustion, comfort and contentment I experienced being back home and a new mother. It is one of the most evocative images I have ever come across.

Then I started thinking about the artist. I have been unable to find out any more about the painting. Was he the husband and father of this scene? Or was this perhaps his sister, or a stranger to him. Either way, he has done a stunning job in recreating a most intimate image of new motherhood,  that for me is beyond charming and quite remarkable, considering he cannot – obviously – have precisely experienced it firsthand.

Of course perhaps five minutes after capturing this scene, the bubble of bliss probably burst. Baby wakes, screaming hungry. Mammy wakes, screaming blue murder, aimed squarely at the end of the bed. ‘Look at you, painting away and me in bits. Isn’t it well for you?! It’s a man world I tell ya…’
And so reality kicks in, as only it can when a new little person comes into your life and your home.

If I ever visit Madrid I shall make a bee line for the Museo Sorolla where this little masterpiece currently resides. I will stand in front of it and cherish it as another lovely birth scene, without any of the background screaming (actual or tweeted) on this occasion.

What does anyone think?

Twitter – Just Who is Following You?

(apologies for the varied fonts – they keep changing of their own accord – can’t change them back. Wordpress – you drive me nuts sometimes)

Think about it. Other than people you already actually know – who’s really following you on Twitter?
Since I joined Twitter, I have been fascinated by the notion that uber-famous people assume random identities just to have regular conversations/interaction etc.

Yes. She IS following you. Really.

 I know you can have a verified account and have your ‘people’ run it for you e.g.President Obama, or occasional celebs who do more than just make pronouncements (@wossy and @tubridyradio1 are two good ones that come to mind)
...could be lurking in your @mentions column
But what about Barack himself? or Prince William ? Or maybe Bono?
They don’t want gazillions of followers, RTing their every word and spamming them with more tweets than they’ll never get to read. Just every day interaction about the issues of the day, the telly, their dinner, or whatever. So they call themselves @randomjoe with a cartoon avatar and off they go.

Just think! you might actually have swapped gardening tips with Prince Charles, dissed Brad with Angelina,

Did he @reply to you yesterday?
or shared your greatest ever goal with Ronaldo.
Of course the matter of identity on Twitter can have more sinister undertones too. You block someone who is annoying, creepy or just a pain? They can, if so determined, just follow you all over again under a new identity.
 An ex you fell out with, or someone who has stalker-type intentions – they won’t follow you under their real identity now will they? It’s almost freaky if you think about it enough. I have been slightly unnerved by (who I assumed were) complete strangers asking me certain questions about my family/children.

Be careful who and what you Tweet is all I say….