This New Tool Warns Journalists If Their Article Quotes Too Many Men

"Only 21% of quoted experts were women"

A woman seen holding a placard with the slogan'The Future is Female' as hundreds protest at the Women's march in Berlin for the rights of women all over the world.
SOPA Images / Contributor / Getty Images

Journalists now have a tool to caution them if they quote too many men as experts in one of their articles.

According to The Guardian, the Financial Times has implemented a system that warns its journalists "if their articles quote too many men, in an attempt to force writers to look for expert women to include in their pieces."

The new policy came after the Financial Times discovered that, of the articles published, only 21% of quoted experts were women. The new bot to correct this grave offense uses "pronouns and analysis of first names to determine whether a source is male or a female" that will then alert section editors if they are in violation.

"The paper, which covers many male-dominated industries, is keen to attract more women readers, with its research suggesting they are put off by articles that rely heavily on quotes from men," reports The Guardian. "Staff were told that, in future, automatic textual analysis could warn FT journalists about the lack of female voices in an article as it is being typed."

The site also plans to feature more images of women in its articles, with experiments showing that "women are more likely than men to click through on a picture of a woman and less likely than men to click through on a picture containing only men."

Financial Times deputy editor Roula Khalaf told staff in an internal email that "desks that use quotes from a high proportion of women also feature more women in their pictures, and their articles are well read by women." Khalaf also note that stories about the NHS, U.S. immigration, and EU tech regulation feature more female quotes than stories about U.S. trade, the oil industry and banking.

"The opinion desk is tracking not only the gender of contributors, but also their ethnicity and geographical location, as part of an effort to commission more female voices, more minority voices in western countries and more local voices elsewhere," said Khalaf.

The new bot comes on the heels of a gender quota trend that has swept the nation. In California, a recent bill would essentially mandate that corporate boards have a certain number of females on staff. From USA Today:

The bill sitting on Brown’s desk, known as SB 826, would mandate public companies with headquarters in California to have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019 and, depending on the size of the board, a minimum of two or three by the end of 2021.

Penalties for noncompliance would start at $100,000 for the first violation and increase to $300,000 for future instances.

The bill, while popular with feminists, did not actually have the broad support among women as its makers had hoped.

"It’s tough to have the government make decisions for us in terms of the ways we run our businesses, and I personally would prefer that we not have the legislation and that the right thing happens anyway,’" said Patty McCord, a former Netflix executive now on the board of Lending Club. "So I’m kind of against the legislation but for pushing it, because it brings it to life.’"

What's Your Reaction?