Helping journalists, producers and conference planners find the female guests, speakers and expert sources they need.

First of its kind Gender Gap Tracker measures data in real time to motivate news outlets to more equitably reflect women’s voices

Ottawa, 3 February 2019 – Informed Opinions, in partnership with Simon Fraser University (SFU), has developed a new tool to track in real time the number of women and men quoted in major news platforms in Canada. The Gender Gap Tracker uses the latest advances in big data analytics and text data mining to measure gender equity in news sources with the aim of drawing attention to and closing the persistent gap.

“As long as men’s voices outnumber women’s by a ratio of almost three to one, we’re missing critical insights,” says Shari Graydon, Informed Opinions’ founder and catalyst. “The Gender Gap Tracker is designed to encourage Canada’s most influential media outlets to work harder to equitably represent women’s perspectives.”

The tool was developed by the university’s big data technical team, and is hosted by its Research Computing Group. SFU linguistics Professor, Maite Taboada and her research team played a significant role in its development.

“Using state-of-the-art tools in computational linguistics, we can identify who is mentioned and who is quoted in news media, providing a very accurate gender breakdown,” says Taboada. “The Gender Gap Tracker has involved experts in big data, computer science and linguistics, collaborating to provide a portrait of female representation in Canadian media.”

The Gender Gap Tracker is available through the @InformedOps Twitter feed, and online at https://gendergaptracker.informedopinions.org/. Visitors can select date ranges and/or specific news outlets to see the percentage of men versus women sources quoted online and also view the aggregate average. Through SFU, the collected data is available to other researchers across the country.

Informed Opinions is working to end the gender gap in public discourse by 2025. “When journalists track their sources, the diversity of representation improves,” says Graydon.

The Honourable Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Maryam Monsef, commends SFU and Informed Opinions for this collaboration: “Canada is now leading the way in the use of big data analytics to measure gender equity in public discourse.  The Gender Gap Tracker is a vital resource to amplify women’s informed opinions across Canada,” says Minister Monsef.

Joy Johnson, SFU’s Vice-President, Research and International, says “Given our decade of leadership in the field of big data and commitment to gender equality, SFU is delighted to apply our advanced computing infrastructure in developing the Gender Gap Tracker for social scientists. This collaboration with Informed Opinions is a perfect fit for us.”

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About Informed Opinions
Informed Opinions is amplifying women’s voices for a more democratic Canada. The national non-profit works to ensure diverse women’s perspectives and priorities are equitably integrated into Canadian public discourse. It trains and motivates expert women on a wide range of issues to provide commentary to media and makes them easier for journalists to find.  https://informedopinions.org/

About Simon Fraser University

SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive university and an innovator in data science excellence. SFU provides the tools, training and expertise needed to put  big data into action for research, training and community impact. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities — Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey — SFU delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students.

For media interviews and more information:

Informed Opinions: Shari Graydon – shari@informedopinions.org; 613-882-6810

Simon Fraser University: Justin Wong – jrwong@sfu.ca; 778-782-3035

Ministry of Women and Gender Equality: Braeson Holland – Braeson.Holland@cfc-swc.gc.ca; 343-549-8825