Washington Secrets

Study: Pulitzers biased against women journalists

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Photo - LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 22:  (L-R) Executive producer and director Maro Chermayeff, actress and participant Meg Ryan, Co-author, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nicholas Kristof, actress and participant Diane Lane, featured participant Urmi Basu, actress and participant America Ferrera, and co-author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Sheryl WuDunn speak onstage at the  "Half the Sky, a Special Presentation of Independant Lens" panel during day 2 of the PBS portion of the 2012 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 22: (L-R) Executive producer and director Maro Chermayeff, actress and participant Meg Ryan, Co-author, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nicholas Kristof, actress and participant Diane Lane, featured participant Urmi Basu, actress and participant America Ferrera, and co-author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Sheryl WuDunn speak onstage at the "Half the Sky, a Special Presentation of Independant Lens" panel during day 2 of the PBS portion of the 2012 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

The world famous Pulitzer Prizes, set to be announced Monday, have a historic bias against female reporters and if history repeats itself tomorrow, men will dominate the journalism awards, according to a groundbreaking and disturbing new study of the media's top prize.

"Being a woman is a disadvantage not only when entering the field, but also when it comes to gaining professional recognition in the field," said the timely study just published in the trade journal Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and provided to Secrets. The Pulitzers are scheduled to be announced Monday.

While other analyses have shown that women are outnumbered and out-earned by male journalists in the nation's newsrooms, the study co-authored by a professor from the noted University of Missouri journalism school for the first time looked at prize winners and found that the percentage of women winners has never kept pace with the larger percentage of females in the business.

While the gap has closed in the last 20 years, only 26.9 percent of the journalism prize winners have been women, while females make up 33 percent of newsrooms.

Since 1917, when the Pulitzers began, 814 journalism awards have been given, 113 to women. Initially, no women won, then over time those working on teams or focused on less publicized local stories won, and recently women have begun to win in the same news categories as men historically have, said the study.

The huge gender gap exists despite the study's findings that the women who have won the Pulitzer are better educated, more urban and work for bigger publications. For example, 35 percent of women winners have a graduate degree, compared to just 18 percent for male winners. And 36 percent majored in journalism, compared to 21 percent of the men.

Typically, the study found, women win for opinion writing and local reporting. But since 1991, when the study found a change in the awards, women have started to win in the photography category more often and there is a growing parity in other categories.

"But," said the study, "the gender gap has not completely disappeared."

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