Oxfam report highlights gender bias in Vietnamese media

By VnExpress   February 22, 2017 | 12:00 am GMT+7
Oxfam report highlights gender bias in Vietnamese media
Newspapers are displayed for sale on a street in Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham

A gap still exists between what journalists believe about equality and how they actually portray women.

A recent report released by the advocacy group Oxfam says that many Vietnamese journalists still hold stereotypical views about female leaders’ skills and qualities, sending the wrong messages to local audiences.

The research team found that journalists in general believe Vietnam needs to increase the role of women in society and economic development. However, the images of women in leadership suggest that what journalists think and what they do may not always match up.

In one of the major findings, the report points out that female leaders are more likely to be associated with family and appearance. Many news reports keep reinforcing this stereotypical ideal of female leaders: they have to be able to handle their family roles as traditional women, and in the workplace as modern women.

Another notable finding is that when journalists seek sources for their stories, they tend to favor men. According to the researchers, who analyzed more than 2,000 articles last year, male sources dominated the news, while female leaders accounted for only 14.3 percent of the sources.

The report also says that most journalists see male sources as more intelligent, decisive and powerful than female leaders.

“Journalists seem to have a general knowledge of gender equality and gender stereotypes, but lack understanding of how these manifest in daily work routines,” according to the report, in a rare criticism of the Vietnamese press.

Oxfam has suggested more training on gender stereotypes for editorial teams. Women’s rights organizations and activists should also communicate more with journalists and news organizations.

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