Inside AFP

Vast improvement in representation of women in AFP's production

Over the past few years, AFP has committed itself to ensuring a better representation of women in its news products. In May 2017, Aurélia End and Pauline Talagrand were tasked by then Global News Director Michèle Léridon with producing a report on the portrayal of women in the daily content produced by AFP in its text, photo, video and infographics services.

The two authors found that while AFP had no reason to be ashamed of its production, there was nevertheless room for improvement.

Following their report, a review was commissoned in partnership with the University of Toulouse under Marlène Coulomb-Gully, researcher and professor in information science and communication.

Following the publication on Monday of her second research report, Marlene Coulomb-Gully said she found a “vast improvement” but that there was still  “room for progress” in giving women even better representation in AFP content.

To achieve this goal, she listed 17 recommendations, most of which are very easy to implement and will help ensure AFP’s continued growth in the domain of female representation in the media.

Since his appointment as Global News Director in January 2019, Phil Chetwynd has reiterated AFP’s commitment to consistently evaluate the Agency's performance in this area and propose measures for improvement.

“AFP’s entire global network of journalists is acutely aware of the importance of giving women a high level of visibility in our production, and the Global News Director is fully committed to implementing recommendations on this subject,” Phil Chetwynd said. “I would like to thank Marlène Coulomb-Gully and the students at the University of Toulouse for their inspiring work on a major social issue.“

Phil Chetwynd said the third phase of the study in the autumn of 2020 will aim to highlight the progress the Agency is making on a daily basis, across all departments, in all regions.

Among her recommendations, Marlène Coulomb-Gully suggests, for example:

  • to be more mindful of indicating a person's age, particularly a woman's age, only when this is relevant to the topic being covered. All too often, a woman’s age is specified even though it has no relevance to the matter at hand.
  • to continue to identify women in the same way as men, by their full name rather than their first name only or without any identifier at all, except in special circumstances (when disclosing a person’s name is not advisable for security reasons, for example).
  • To keep using the feminine when giving the names of roles and positions in the workplace; to continue to be conscious of using gender-inclusive terms. The excessive use of the masculine in speech and in writing can create an unequal perception of the world (See the guide on implementing the feminine with regards to roles, titles, ranks and functions in the workplace published by French High Council for Equality between Women and Men).