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Monitoring of gender balance in online media. 3rd quarter 2020

28.09.2020, 12:01

Showbiz news, international and political news are the top topics where women are most often mentioned in Ukrainian online media.

These are the results of a study by the NGO "Institute of Mass Information" conducted in September 2020 *.

Actually, the presence of women experts in the Ukrainian online media is 19% against 81% of men experts. The ratio of female experts in the Ukrainian online media remains stable compared to the 1st quarter of 2020

If we look at the percentage retrospectively, one could see that the "best times" for gender balance were in 2018-2019. For example, the presence of female experts in online media in February 2019  was 24%.

The female experts have been mentioned the most frequently by: TSN (31%), The 24th Channel (27%), as well as by "UNIAN" and "NV" 23% each.

Women protagonists are three times less likely to be mentioned in the stories than men. These figures average 28% of female protagonists against 72% of men protagonists. 

Most mentions of the female protagonists have been recorded in the following media: "Politaka" (46%), "TSN" (44%) and "The 24th Channel" (37%).

However, IMI experts want to emphasize that the indicators in such media are not always equal to "gender-balanced story". In most cases, the show business or other "yellow" stories depict women in sexist and derogatory patterns. What, in its turn affects maliciously readers.


Almost every third story was related to show business - 28.7% of the total number of materials about women protagonists. Foreign female celebrities were most often mentioned. We also said in our previous monitoring that the majority of mass media, which have a much higher percentage of female protagonists had employed sexist texts:

With a very low neckline: gorgeous Cate Blanchett shone on the red carpet / TSN

Skinny Selena Gomez flashed splendid neckline on cover of famous tabloid/ TSN

Sexy Zlata Ognevich flashed naked bust in a spicy photo shoot session / TSN

The second position was up to international news - 27.2%. Most frequently appeared in the international news the leaders of the Belarusian opposition - Maria Kolesnikova and Svitlana Tikhanovska. This is due to the political developments in Belarus. 

Kolesnikova is suspected of public appeals to seize power, - lawyer   / Censor

Brave women: Tikhanovska, Kolesnikova and Tsepkalo nominated for Sakharov Prize  / The 24th Channel

They have been mentioning also Svitlana Aleksievich, who is also a member of the presidium of the coordination council of the Belarusian opposition.  In addition, the international pages spoke of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but a little bit more as an expert than protagonist. 

For the second day European diplomats are on duty at Aleksievich's house to protect her from detention. PHOTO / Censor

Zelensky and Merkel will discuss Donbass on September 10 / Obozrevatel

Every tenth story whith a woman protagonist was criminal chronicles, road accidents or emergency incident - 9.4% .Mostly, the heroines of such news were victims of violence or victims of road accidents.

Only 6.8% of the total number of female protagonists were seen in political news. Among Ukrainian female politicians were most often mentioned: Iryna Vereshchuk, mayoral candidate in Kyiv and MP from the "Servant of the People"; Batkivshchyna leader Yulia Tymoshenko who recovered from coronavirus and MP Iryna Herashchenko from European Solidarity. There were also some single mentions of MPs from the "Servant" Elizaveta Yasko, Yulia Grishina, Tetyana Ryabukha and MP from “Holos” party Inna Sovsun.

For reference, in March 2020,  women-protagonists have been mentioned in 8.2% of stories.

There were significantly fewer mentions of female protagonists in stories covering the issues of:  society (4%), human rights (3.1%), healthcare (2.8%) and culture (2.6%).


Most often, online media invited female experts to comment on the international issues - they accounted for 28.4% of the total number of female experts cited in mass media. The most frequently we have seen the female experts : Belarusian opposition leader Svitlana Tikhanovska, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Emine Japarova, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

"Putin does not support Lukashenko with very much of zeal." Tikhanovskaya spoke about the wait-and-see tactics of the President of the Russian Federation /

MFA: Russian elections of the governor in the Crimea named illegal / UP

Merkel: Decision on Nord Stream 2 will be European one, not German / UP

There were significantly fewer female experts who commented on the topic of politics - 13.2%. The frontrunner female MPs as to the quantity of comments on politics were MPs from the "Servant of the People" party Lyudmyla Buimyster, Yevhenia Kravchuk. There were also single mentions of Inna Sovsun (MP from "Holos"), Alyona Shkrum (MP from "Batkivshchyna").

Each tenth news that female expert commented on was the news of society issue (9.5%): psychology, children and education. 

Women experts also commented on news related to the health: 8.6% . IMI noted that the percentage of health-related materials where women were experts has dropped significantly. For example, in February 2020, the percentage of female experts speaking on health in mass media was 19%.  This is due to the fact that Covid-19 was actively spreading in the world, respectively, ex-Minister of Health Zoryana Skaletska was quoted in mass media. However, at present, men comment more on the topic of health. This is due to the fact that currently the positions of chief infectious disease specialist, Minister of Health are held by men. In previous period, the heads of the Ministry of Health were women: Ulyana Suprun and Zoryana Skaletska.

Currently, we found some stories dealing with "cosmetic and aesthetic medicine":

Nutritionist debunked the popular myth of weight loss  / Korrespondent

Why drinking collagen does not work/ TSN 

The main product. How much bread can be eaten without detriment to the figure / Novoe Vremya

 Significantly fewer female experts commented on crime (7.5%), business / economics (6.2%) and were spokeswomen (5.5%).


IMI experts call on Ukrainian newsrooms to pay attention to the importance of gender-balanced stories.

Previously, we wrote that you need to study your audience, see what percentage of women consume your news production, then count how many interviewed, are there enough women experts? Also, take more frequently comments from women experts and remember: the more women are represented in mass media, the more economically successful Ukraine will be. 

✅ We would like to remind you that IMI has prepared advice for editors on self-assessment and gender balance: 

10 recommendations for journalists on gender balance.

✅ We would also like to inform you that IMI put in place a gender and anti-discrimination policy of the organization. 

✅ If your editorial office needs any advice on gender and anti-discrimination policy, IMI will help free of charge. Please, send your application [email protected] .

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