Panels or Manels? Desperately seeking women in Indian TV news debates

Manel report Cover Final webAlthough women constitute around half of the human population, their voices and opinions are not proportionately heard in the public sphere. Women are seen, heard or read less than men almost everywhere in the world.

The representation of women and men in the news media, in India as in much of the world – as news-makers, sources of news, news analysts/commentators and even news presenters – is far from equal, as the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) has consistently shown. The under-representation of women as experts, in particular, is a global trend even though it has been clearly established that there is today no dearth of female experts in multiple fields in most countries.

Television news channels in India regularly feature panel discussions with spokespersons and experts to analyse and debate current events and issues.  Women are invariably under-represented in these forums.

Over the past few years the issue of ‘manels’ – men-only panels – has come to the fore internationally, with a popular blog (‘Congrats! You Have an All-Male Panel’) calling attention to the all-too-common phenomenon and several other initiatives, such as @genderavenger and manpanels.org, attempting to raise awareness and encourage corrective action. In India, too, several panels on important platforms and conferences have been called out for being all-male panels or manels, as they are now called.

Having observed and experienced the gender imbalance in news media in general, and the poor representation of women in debates and discussions in news television in particular, members of the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) from across the country decided to conduct a systematic monitoring of TV news channels in the summer of 2017.

Panels or Manels? Study on the Representation of Women in Indian TV News Channels 

Study highlights 

February 1, 2019