Gender Tracker FAQs

Women in News has developed a practical Gender Balance Guide for the media, which uses a simple framework to explain what we mean by gender balanced content. For content to be gender balanced women and men must have:

1. Equal prominence
2. Equal voices and opinions
3. Equal portrayals
4. Content that appeals to both

The Gender Tracker uses this framework to measure gender balance. At the moment the Gender Tracker focuses on the first two categories: prominence of women, and inclusion of women’s voices and opinions, with plans to expand to the third category – portrayals of women.

The Gender Tracker analyses text only and currently includes four metrics to measure the prominence of women and the inclusion of their voices and opinions.

1. % people mentioned who are women
A simple way to track how prominent women are is to count the sheer number of mentions that they receive in an article. This metric divides the total number of women mentioned by the total number of people mentioned. A ‘mention’ includes any reference to a person (man, woman or unknown). This could be a name, a pronoun (she, he, her, his, him, etc.), a title (Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Sir, Lady, Dame, etc.), or a gendered noun (girlfriend, boyfriend, daughter, son, wife, husband, etc.). The Gender Tracker counts every single mention, not just unique mentions. So if ‘he’ is mentioned 20 times in an article it is counted 20 times.
2. % main characters who are women
You can also look at prominence by looking who the story is about – the main characters or subjects. A story can have more than one main character. This metric uses salience and defines a main character as someone with a salience of more than 0.8. The number of women main characters is divided by the total number of main characters. A main character is only counted once (unlike metric 1).

3. % sources who are women
Tracking the gender of sources gives a clear idea of the level of inclusion of women’s voices and opinions. A ‘source’ can be someone giving an account of a personal experience or opinion, a witness, a spokesperson or an expert. A ‘source’ includes someone who is quoted either directly or indirectly. This metric counts the number of direct and indirect quotes by women and divides it by the number of direct and indirect quotes by people. This metric counts all sources and not unique sources.
4. % authors who are women
Author (byline) is a simple and powerful metric for voice and opinion. This metric counts the number of women authors and divides it by the total number of authors (where the author is specified). This metric is only included in the media app and not the quick tracker or individual apps.

If you would like to know more about the methodology for each indicator please contact us

WIN is currently expanding the Gender Tracker to look at the third category of gender balance: Portrayals of women. These metrics will focus on the language used to portray women and will identify language that is stereotyping or overtly sexist.

All of the Gender Tracker’s metrics use % scores which represent the % of women for that metric. For example, if the score for “% main characters who are women” is 27%, this means that 27% of the total number of main characters are women. The Gender Tracker gives each article an overall score: Average % women. This overall score is simply the average (mean) of all of the metrics and each metric is given an equal weighting.

Truly gender balanced content means that women and men are represented equally. In numbers, this means 50% women and 50% men. Technically anything under 50% women or over 50% women isn’t perfectly gender balanced. But WIN sees anything over 50% women as a good thing, because for every article that overcompensates on its representation of women there are 3 articles where women are underrepresented. For now, this means that the Gender Tracker’s metrics have a target score of 50+% women.

The Gender Tracker uses a combination of a third party natural language processor (NLP), a number of WIN-developed keyword databases, and a gender-name API. These are used and integrated differently depending on the indicator.

The Gender Tracker uses a natural language processor (NLP) to recognise ‘entities’ or people. These entities are then identified as being a woman, man or unknown using a gender-name API as well as an evolving WIN name database. When a name is gender neutral or the gender is unknown, the Gender Tracker runs an additional step and looks for related pronouns and titles that may indicate the person’s gender. Otherwise, the name is identified as ‘unknown gender’.

At the moment the Gender Tracker is an English language tool only. WIN is keen to develop the Gender Tracker for different languages, specifically Arabic so watch this space.

Tracking your content and understanding how gender balanced it is (or isn’t) is an important first step. Knowing how to improve it is a different story. WIN has developed a practical Gender Balance Guide for the media to help journalists, editors and media organisations alike to make their content more gender balanced.

We want this tool to be as good as it can be. Please help us by telling us about any errors or omissions that you spot, big or small. Please contact us at [email protected] to be put in touch with one of our Gender Tracking experts.