Monday, July 26, 2021

Women and Men, Star Tribune Op-Eds, Six Months

It's the end of the six months of data collection I've been doing on the gender breakdown of Star Tribune op-ed writers and editorial cartoonists.

July 2021 was bad, almost as bad as May, with 70% of the bylines by men and 30% by women (plus one by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board). To add insult to injury, among those male writers were two from the Center of the American Experiment and one from former State Senator Scott Jensen. Oh, and on one single day there were two by men named Douglas and another named Dick, but no women. I thought that was a particular affront for some reason. All those "D" men on a single page.

Once again there was not a single cartoon by a woman.

As far as local/regional writers go, the imbalance was not quite as bad as the total imbalance, as has been typical. 67% of the local writers were men vs. 33% women. Still, that's really bad and much worse than it was last month.

So now that I have six months of data, where did we end up?

Unfortunately, I can't find my original data tally for two of the months and in one of those month's blog write-ups I didn't include the data count for the local writers (just the percentage), so I can't provide a six-month total for the locals. (I'll keep looking, but I suspect I recycled it, since my very official tally sheets are on the backs of unneeded envelopes.)

But here's the tally for all of the writers:

324 men vs. 153 women (plus one nonbinary writer, one I could not determine, and three institutions/editorial boards). For the men and women writers (omitting the few others from the total), that comes out to an imbalance of just about 68% of the op-eds by men and 32% by women.

So that's significantly worse than two-thirds/one-third, when all was said and done.

And, of course, out of half a year of daily cartoons (182 days, to be exact) there were just 3 by a woman, and when I say "a" woman I'm being literal, because they were all by the same woman: the almost unintelligibly right-wing Lisa Benson.

In fairness to the Star Tribune, this is not one of the Benson cartoons the paper ran: I just wanted to show a bit of her work. But what is the pink Lyft mustache supposed to mean here? And Trump is driving a little compact car instead of something that symbolizes bigness and greatness? And of course, everything Benson doesn't like is "socialism" (that was a recurring theme in about half the cartoon samples I considered). 

As I've said before, the Star Tribune needs to explore some other women cartoonists for the days when they are not running Steve Sack and L.K. Hanson. It's not as if they don't sometimes run non-right-wing cartoons by syndicated cartoonists when they run non-local content. Throw the women a bone, editors!


Past posts:


Remember a couple of rules I used in my data count: 

  • I based my assessment of the gender of the writer on their name (or if I knew who they are, personal knowledge). If it did not seem clear, I determined their  gender by searching for a text reference that included pronouns or if that wasn't possible, a photo. None of this is not fool-proof, I acknowledge, and I may be the fool.
  • If a piece had multiple authors, I decided that just two authors would both be counted, but if it had three or more, I would count only the first named author, because after two it seemed like more of a gesture of representation in a public forum rather than indicating the piece was actually written by each of the people. (For instance, a list of politicians.)


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