EqualVoice Summit: advancing gender equality in the media

On Tuesday, the EqualVoice Summit took place for the second time. Guests like Geena Davis, Dr. Maria Furtwängler Micheline Calmy-Rey and many more support gender equality in the media and beyond. Werbewoche.ch was on the hunt for voices.

(Image: zVg. Ringier)

The second EqualVoice Summit organized by Ringier was held under the motto "The Power of Images" and once again met with great interest from 250 top executives from the international business, film and media worlds. On Tuesday afternoon, Ringier CEO Marc Walder and CFO Annabella Bassler invited them to the Aura in Zurich for a constructive discourse on gender equality in the media and traditional role models.

Reduce prejudices

Images can develop an enormous force and thus power. The "Reuters Institute Digital News Report." shows, among other things, that news about world events now reaches young people more frequently via social media and thus via media with a visual focus. Those who know how to use the power of images can achieve a lot and do a lot of damage, can advance themselves and others or harm them. Says Annabella Bassler: "When selecting images and photos, we have a great influence on whether we serve role clichés and stereotypes or depict society and the world of work as it has changed in the meantime."

Depicting women in their diversity of roles creates reality. Showing men in their diverse role models breaks down prejudices. Media companies and picture agencies should contribute to taking the diverse society into account. That is why Ringier, together with Keystone-SDA, is launching the EqualPYXX initiative in the fall of 2023 to break through visual stereotypes as well.

Program mit Geena Davis and Anastacia

This year's Summit program included speeches and presentations by international personalities on the topics of gender equality and the power of images. Former Federal Councilor Micheline Calmy-Rey began with a political perspective. This was followed by a keynote address on the impact of images from a scientific perspective by Dr. Heather Cairns-Lee, Affiliate Professor of Leadership and Communication at the International Institute for Management Development IMD in Lausanne and Singapore. Afterwards, bestselling author Dr. Reinhard K. Sprenger shed light on the influence of gender on leadership within a company.

This was followed by the presentation of Ringier's EqualVoice initiative and a keynote speech by Carolina Müller-Möhl, President of the Müller-Möhl Group and the Müller-Möhl Foundation. As an Advisory Board member and partner of EqualVoice, she spoke about equality in culture as well as about her "taskforce4women", which aims to give women more visibility in culture and media as well as in business, politics, science and society in general.

In keeping with the theme of the Summit, "The Power of Images," Helen Hoehne, German-American journalist and President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association since 2021, as well as a member of the Golden Globes jury, spoke about equality in images and films. Dr. Léa Steinacker, journalist and co-founder of "Ada Learning," spoke about artificial intelligence and equality.

On the panel on "Equality in Media & Advertising," Marc Walder discussed with Dr. Maria Furtwängler, physician, actress and co-founder of the MaLisa Foundation, which advocates for a society in which all genders can fully develop their potential, and Ana Hanžeković Krznarić, Chairman of the Board of Hanza Media from Croatia, as well as with the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Politico Europe, Kate Day.

Geena Davis, the U.S. actress, film producer, two-time Academy Award winner, Golden Globe winner, and founder of the Geena Davis Institute, provided insight into the work of the institute she founded in 2004. It is the only global research-based organization working in the entertainment industry to promote gender balance, foster inclusion and break down negative stereotypes in family entertainment media. "The stories we tell in entertainment media send a specific message about who matters most in our culture," Davis said. "To create global culture change, it is especially important that children see diverse, intersectional representations of characters in the media to reflect the world's population - half of which is female and very diverse - and to avoid inculcating unconscious bias in them. Media have the power to educate, to shape people's minds. They also have incredible power when you see someone like yourself on the screen. We have seen from the beginning that data is the key to the

Defusing unconscious bias in the creation of entertainment media are. We take a very similar approach to the EqualVoice Initiative. Through data-driven research, education and advocacy, we aim to empower and inspire media professionals to reshape the media landscape to reflect the world we live in."
The EqualVoice Summit concluded with a concert performance by pop singer Anastacia.

AI in action at the EqualVoice-Factor

Media studies continue to show a persistent gender imbalance in news coverage, with women often underrepresented. Women often receive less visibility, fewer speaking roles, and fewer opportunities for leadership positions in news reporting and other forms of media coverage.

In November 2019, Ringier launched the EqualVoice initiative, which promotes equality between women and men in the media (Werbewoche.ch reported). The aim is to make women more visible in reporting and give them an equal voice. The core of the initiative is the EqualVoice Factor. The objective measurement tool analyzes printed and digital content with the support of a semantic algorithm.

In the meantime, Ringier has further developed the EqualVoice-Factor to also recognize images. Now it was announced at the Summit that EqualVoice-Factor can recognize the gender of people in moving images. According to Ringier, EqualVoice-Factor is thus the world's first semantic algorithm that can analyze the proportion of women and men in moving images.

Reach continuously expanded

According to Ringier, 32 media brands in seven European countries already actively use the EqualVoice Factor. "We are proud that the 32 EqualVoice media brands currently already reach 50 million users," said Ringier CEO Marc Walder. "Our goal is to break the sound barrier of 100 million unique clients as soon as possible."

The Hanza Media Group from Croatia is also a new part of the EqualVoice initiative. "Diversity and gender balance are indispensable for future-oriented journalism. That's why we want to drive this change through EqualVoice also in our media brands in Croatia," says Ana Hanžeković Krznarić, Chairman of the Board of Hanza Media.

The voices from the Summit

Anna Kohler and Beat Hürlimann from m&k advertisingweek.ch spoke during the second EqualVoice Summit with the two co-founders Annabella Brassel and Katia Murmann as well as with Dr. Maria Furtwängler, physician, co-founder of the MaLisa Foundation, also known as crime scene commissioner.

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