Women make up about 50 percent of the population on this planet. Yet, according to a new study appearing in American Sociological Review, which examined data from over 2,000 U.S. newspapers, magazines, and online news sources from 1983 to 2009, they’ve consistently been dominated by men when it comes to how much coverage they get in the news.

Lead author Eran Shor, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at McGill University, found that five out of every six names mentioned in the news — a staggering 82 percent — were men. "The persistent gap in media coverage is produced by a mix of two ingredients," Shor said in a press release. "The ingredients are the media's preoccupation with leaders at the expense of everyone else and the well-known 'glass ceiling' that continues to block off working women's access to leadership positions."

The study found that only in special cases in which the women reported on were dubbed “obscure individuals” did they receive nearly equal attention. The researchers defined obscure individuals as people who only appear in a news segment once or twice. What’s more, the researchers found women weren’t portrayed any more equally in liberal media, despite the common perception they are.

"This is a surprising finding because there is some literature suggesting that liberal news outlets may cover women's issues more than conservative ones," Shor said. 'There is also quite a lot of literature that suggests having women as editors-in-chief or managing editors, or more women on editorial boards would make a difference but, once again, that is not the case."

He said the reason men get more media coverage is likely because the media tends to focus on top-level figures within organizations, such as CEOs, presidents, politicians, or movie directors. Only 14 percent of the top five leadership positions in S&P 500 companies are held by women. And the further up you go, the worse it gets; there are only 24 women in America who are CEOs of major companies. As long as these individuals are mostly male, the gender disparities in media coverage will remain large.

It doesn’t really matter what the subject is either — whether it’s sports, entertainment, business, or news — coverage often neglects to mention women. Leading up to the release of The Avengers: The Age of Ultron, Scarlett Johansson was either removed or minimized from all marketing materials. Meanwhile, women’s sports gets nearly zero coverage on ESPN. In a 25-year study by the University of Southern California, ESPN’s nightly program Sportscenter was found to devote just 2 percent of its programming to women’s sports, of which 81 percent comprised women’s basketball. And when it comes to politics, news stories tend to focus more on women’s personality traits than their stance on issues.

"As long as men continue to monopolize the highest levels of occupational and social hierarchies, we are not likely to see a major shift in media coverage," Shor said. "The resulting dominance of men as subjects of public and dinner-table conversation may reinforce and normalize in the minds of audiences the notion that power and newsworthiness are something men have and, apparently, deserve."

Source: Shor, E, et al. A Paper Ceiling: Explaining the Persistent Underrepresentation of Women in Printed News. American Sociological Association. 2015.