Hoyden About Town has posted a really interesting entry on the proportion of mentions of the words she and he on feminist blogs and political party websites.
Click over there for a full list, and then head over to this Google blog to see how your must-read sites stack up.
Here’s some UK-relevant examples:
The F Word – 64:36
BBC – 35:63
Guardian – 29:71
Daily Mail – 42:58
The Sun – 34:66
The Times – 26:74
The Financial Times – 18:82
The Independent – 24:76
Labour Party – 29:71
[This is a bit of surprise, as they have a big photo of Jacqui Smith on the front page and a whole section for women, alongside those for members, councillors, etc]
Tories – 20:80
Lib Dems – 23:77
Of course, there’s a limit to how much you can learn from this data. The F Word is a feminist site that writes about women, so of course we use “she” a lot. But the Daily Mail is a right-wing rag that runs lots of human-interest stories about women. The top stories on their site at the moment are about girls or women, but they are a scare-story about the little girl who was abducted in Portugal and a shock-story about Paris Hilton, who has just been sentenced to 45 days in jail for driving on a suspended licence.
The Daily Mail is also running with a story about the cervical cancer vaccine, which seems to purposefully seek to manufacture controversy about it “encouraging underage sex”, and railing about the cost to the taxpayer and completely glossing over the fact that the jab promises to end a kind of cancer.
On the other hand, it undoubtedly does reflect bias in some cases. You just have to dig a bit further. Like, on the front page of the Financial Times’ website, there are two mentions of women: one accusing French presidential hopeful Ségolène Royal of a “venomous attack” on Sarkozy, because she said the election of the right-wing, anti-immigration politician could trigger more riots. And the second mention is of the Turkish foreign minister’s wife, and is confined to a mention that she wears the veil.