71% Of Women On TV Are Under 40

Carina Chocano revealed some interesting statistics in her Friday column in The New York Times, "Girls Love Math. We Never Stop Doing It."
“What we see on broadcast television is that the majority of female characters are in their 20s and 30s,” says Martha M. Lauzen, the executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, in Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s documentary, Miss Representation. “That is just a huge misrepresentation of reality, and that really skews our perceptions.”

In reality, the documentary says, “women in their teens, 20s and 30s are 39 percent of the population, yet are 71 percent of women on TV. Women 40 and older are 47 percent of the population, yet are 26 percent of women on TV.” And the women in their 20s and 30s on TV are too often depicted as freaking out about their age, reinforcing the idea that life ends when adulthood begins.

“When any group is not featured in the media, they have to wonder, Well, what part do I play in this culture?” Lauzen says. “There’s actually an academic term for that. It’s called 'symbolic annihilation.' ”
Illustration: Tom Gauld

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