By: First Union
Women Appear Half As Often As Men In Facebook Photos
The Pew Research Center has conducted a study analyzing the number of times men appear in news photos on Facebook versus women. The study ran from April 2017 through June and subsequently examined 17 national outlets' FB posts. The results: men appeared twice as often as women in these photos.
The significance of this study ties into how many turns to Facebook now for their news. It's estimated that over 40% of adults in the US do use the social media platform to get their news for the day. And it is rapidly gaining ascendancy over even print news channels.
Looking at all individuals contained within all photos included in the study, women came in at just over thirty percent of all images, men came in at a much more substantial 67%.
Another way to look at it would be to say that in the 22000 plus posts that had human faces, more than half had just male faces, whereas 22% were just those of women.
Yes, these findings are rather surprising. And yet we don't have a set standard as far as how many men versus women should appear in news outlet photos that appear on social media posts. Granted, the US population as a whole is fairly evenly divided. However, you also have to consider the subject—if, for instance, the posts investigated had to do with the NFL, then obviously the results would skew almost predominantly male. Also, the US senate is only about 25% female, so accordingly, coverage might follow this percentage. Keeping this in mind, the study in question did not examine the focus of the stories and/or news content.
However, given a few different types of content, women do show up at lower rates than their male counterparts. For example, in economy-related posts, women appear 9% of the time to the men's 69%. In entertainment-based photos, women show up 40% to the men's 42%. A slim margin, albeit still a lower occurrence for the women.
The rationale behind this study, in part, was to demonstrate how machine vision can enable researchers to take massive amounts of photos and analyze them for specific elements. When tested on the data with which it trained, the technology showed an astounding 95% accuracy. And when faced with a more random sampling that percentage dropped to 87%.
Men are featured in more news photos on Facebook
In terms of how many images focus exclusively on one sex or the other, the men outpace the women here as well. 22% featured just women, whereas more than 53% were dedicated exclusively to men. And even with those depicting both men and women, that number also beat out exclusively women-oriented photos at 25%.
In total, it was estimated that there were just over 53,000 faces identified in approximately 22,300 images on Facebook. Of those identified, researchers found 35,300 to be men and the remaining 17,700 were women. Percentage-wise that breaks down to 67% and 33% respectively.
In those images with several people included, the men again outnumbered the women. On average, as far as multiple person photos, men came in at two to one over women.
When it comes to entertainment women are shown more, but never outnumber the men
Looking at the various categories analyzed, women did come in at a higher number for a few of them but did not ultimately outnumber their male counterparts. For instance, in those posts related to entertainment, TV, movies, and music, women did show up in larger numbers. But even within this category, they still fell short in terms of measuring up to the number of times men appeared.
The study focused primarily on four main topics and then subtopics within these. The four categories were: immigration, the economy, entertainment, and sports. These were chosen based upon public predilections for reading and news choice.
The model relied upon text contained within and captioning the posts. According to the results, 5678 mentioned TV or entertainment, just under 1300 Facebook posts mentioned the economy, 1530 talked about immigration and slightly over 1300 mentioned sports.
The smallest gender gap as far as who appeared in pictures was seen in entertainment-related posts. Women appeared most often in news photos related to this topic. Though they did not appear more than the men. Of photos showing exclusively women within this entertainment category, there were approximately 27%, with 42% showing just men. In total, 58% of the posts in entertainment had at least one woman in it, while 73% depicted at least one man.
The largest gender divide could be found in economy-related posts—with 9% showing just women and a much larger 69% exclusively focused on men. 31% of the economy posts on Facebook had at least one woman and just over ninety percent contained at least one man.
The topic of sports also presented a fairly notable gender gap. Just over eighty percent of the images evaluated had at least one man in this category, and that number for women came in at about half—right around 40%. Immigration numbers skewed quite similar to those seen with sports-oriented photos.
Women's faces are smaller than the men's
The research also looked at the size of the subsequent faces shown in the images examined. There was a bit of a difference, albeit a modest one. The technique used eliminated things such as headwear and jewelry. The results: the average man's face took up approximately 3.8% of the photo; whereas with women this number was closer to 3.5%. Mathematically calculated, you could say that the average male face was right around 10% larger than the average female face in the Facebook post pictures analyzed.
Broken down by category—in economy-related posts, the average woman's face was 19% smaller; in terms of entertainment, the woman came out on top with their faces being approximately 7% larger than men's faces.
On average, women appear less than men
None of the seventeen outlets studied had more women in their photos. The percentage breaks down, as far as all individuals are shown, to 25% women and just under 50% men.