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Men are Dominating Nordic Media

While the Nordic countries are internationally renowned for their progress in gender equality, most top management positions in the media and communication industry are held by men. Printed news media is one example, as 58–100 per cent of all editors-in-chief are men. These and other figures can be found in a new fact sheet from Nordicom and Nordic Information on Gender – NIKK.

Studio Lighting. Foto: Colourbox
 Foto: Colourbox

Nordicom is a Nordic knowledge centre in the field of media and communication research that initiated the project Nordic Gender & Media Forum in 2013. One purpose of the project was to produce gendered statistics on the Nordic media industry. Now NIKK and Nordicom are presenting their findings for Nordic filmmaking, journalism, advertising and the gaming industry in a new fact sheet.

‘Gender equality work is nothing new in the film industry, partly because the national Swedish and Norwegian film institutes have had gender equality objectives included in the film contracts,’ says Maria Edström, leader of the Nordic Gender & Media Forum project.

Most leading roles in films are played by men (64 per cent of all Nordic films in 2012) and for directors the proportion is a full 85 per cent.

When it comes to journalism, the editorial teams are more or less gender balanced. The management level, however, is a different story. Looking for example at Icelandic daily newspapers, 100 per cent of all editors-in-chief are male (although there are only two such publications in the country). In Norway the corresponding figure is 90 per cent, in Denmark 84 per cent and in Finland 63 per cent. Sweden has the most equal gender distribution, yet 58 per cent of all editors-in-chief are still men.

The advertising industry resembles journalism in that the gender distribution is balanced at the staff level but male-dominated at the top.

The Nordic gaming industry is growing rapidly. Comparable gender statistics are missing, but there are strong indications that it is the most male dominated of all sectors. For example, 85 per cent of all game developers in Sweden are men.

Comparable statistics are hard to get

One problem when analysing the media industry is that gendered statistics are often hard to come by. Systematic comparisons can be difficult, too, since different Nordic countries use different types of measurements.

‘Both the UN, the EU and the European Council have long required the media industry to increase their gender equality efforts, in both their organisations and products. This in turn calls for more comparable statistics so we can base the work on a shared perspective. It would also enable us to start talking about why there are such big differences among the Nordic countries,’ says Maria Edström.

According to NIKK, gender equality in the media industry is a matter of democracy.

‘So it’s very valuable for NIKK to get to cooperate with Nordicom around gender equality in Nordic media. These types of comparisons fill a void. At NIKK we’re developing comparative knowledge reviews concerning Nordic gender equality work. Partly so we can learn from each other’s mistakes, but also to identify positive examples. Thanks to Nordicom, today you can find them in media as well, and that’s great,’ says Josefine Alvunger, Head of Operations at NIKK.

Updated 26 September 2020