Turns Out, New Yorker Cartoons Feature Mostly White Men, According To This Study

by Alexa Salvato


Even though The New Yorker has been around forever, it’s still considered one of the most liberal news mags we have out there. That’s why it was so depressing to learn that its trademark cartoons are not “liberal” at all in their representation of women and especially of people of color.

In a study conducted by the Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science (which has some satirical studies but also some serious ones, too), the authors determined that, out of 1810 characters published in the magazine’s 2014 cartoons, about 71 percent were male and 95 percent were white. (This means that only 25 out of 1,810 people in their cartoons were women of color!)

How can this problem be rectified? Well, having more women and people of color as cartoonists can certainly help. As Joseph Stromberg at Vox reported, “When it comes to the disparity between men and women in these cartoons, the study authors noticed something interesting — though, again, not surprising. The handful of female cartoonists were way, way more likely to draw female characters.”

Another interesting/depressing discovery was that when women were in cartoons, they were rarely playing the role of plain old “person,” and instead were often in supporting roles, like as a spouse or an assistant. It’s not a shock, but in cartoons, the white male is the default.

Cartoons have been used by newspapers as accessible commentary on politics and social norms for centuries, topics that affect every single one of us. It’s high time that these cartoons reflect their readership.

Images via Liza Donnelly/The New Yorker and PNIS 

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