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Women's speaking time: 700,000 programming hours analysed

Women's speaking time: 700,000 programming hours analysed

By analysing 700,000 hours of French TV and radio programmes, INA has carried out the world's largest study of women's speaking time in the French media and has confirmed their significant under-representation.

Crédits photo : Jean Adda

According to this study, women occupy on average one third of the time on television and radio: thanks to the automatic detection of men’s and women’s voices (applied for the first time to the description of the female expression rate) the INA Research and Innovation department was able to scientifically quantify a strong imbalance in the audiovisual media with unparalleled exhaustiveness, with the help of artificial intelligence methods.

> Television: women speak less than men on all channels, despite a 4.7% increase in the female expression rate from 2010 to 2018.

On average, women never speak more than men, regardless of the channel studied. The parity of speaking time is almost reached on the channels targeting a female audience (Téva, Chérie 25) while the sports channels are associated with the lowest women's speaking rates (17% for L'Équipe, 7.73% for Eurosport).
It is on public channels that the increase in women's speaking time is the most visible (+ 7.2%). Of the more general-interest channels, the highest female expression rates could be found on M6 (40.5%) and TF1 (35.6%).
On France 24, the speaking time is almost balanced (the female expression rate reaches almost 45%). Paradoxically, the most equal channel can therefore give foreigners a distorted image of French media.

> Radio: there was a 9.2% increase in women's speaking time on the radio between 2001 and 2018, but disparities are still visible, especially during peak viewing times.

In the case of radio stations that broadcast more speech than music, women speak more on public radio stations, as shown by the maximum female expression rate on French international news radio station, Radio France International (33.2%). The two "bad students", in terms of equal time on the radio, are Skyrock (16.2%) and RMC (16.9%).
The only station that gives more speaking time to women than men is Chérie FM, which remains marginal, however, given that this station broadcasts more than 80% music.

> INA, observatory of the contemporary media ecosystem

Contributing to a better understanding of the way the media functions (a key issue for today’s societies) is one of the vocations of the National Audiovisual Institute (INA). It is along these lines that the research conducted by David Doukhan, engineer at INA's Research and Innovation department, takes aim.
The indicators generated during this study using the INASpeechSegmenter acoustic analysis software – a collaboration between the INA research department and the Le Mans University information laboratory – have been made available on and can be used by all audiovisual stakeholders and citizens.