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Broadcast launches 'Expert Women' campaign

Broadcast is calling on the TV and radio industry to sign a pledge favouring an increase in the number of female experts interviewed on screen.

While it would be unrealistic to expect equal representation of male and female contributors, the campaign aims to narrow the gap as well as to raise awareness of the ratio of women presented as ‘case studies’ or ‘victims’.

Over a 4-week period in Summer 2011, the Today programme had six times the number of male to female experts, according to research by City University.

Researchers there will begin monitoring the use of experts across a range of news and current affairs programmes, beginning next month, with the results published in Broadcast.

The pledge aims to encourage broadcasters to use more women experts, and to encourage more women experts to take part.

  • Scroll down to leave comments and suggestions

The pledge

“We pledge to attempt to increase the number of expert women interviewed in broadcast news to reflect the growing number of women in significant roles in business and the professions.

“We will raise awareness of the ratio of women presented as ‘victims’ or ‘case studies’, to the number of women presented as experts or commentators.

“We will aim to narrow the gap between the number of male and female experts used in programmes, by encouraging broadcasters to use more women experts, and by encouraging more women experts to take part.”

We recognise that improving the ratio of male/female experts on screen is just one small step to improving the onscreen representation of diverse groups.

We also recognise that what is seen on-screen reflects the situation behind the scenes, whereby large numbers of women 35+ have left the industry and where the lack of equal opportunities remains an issue.

If you have comments, suggestions or action points you would like the industry to take - both in terms of on- and off-screen - please leave them in the section below.

For example:

  • Is there a need for more training in diversity issues?

  • Should the government go ahead with plans to release Ofcom from its duty to promote equality in broadcasting?

  • Should companies be forced to publish their non-executive directors?

Please leave your comments below…

Readers' comments (5)

  • The London University stats are truly shocking and will be a wake-up call to all broadcasters in TV and radio. Well done to Broadcast for launching another terrific campaign for fairness and equality. We look forward to monitoring the results. More power to you!
    Kate Kinninmont
    Chief executive
    Women in Film & TV (UK)

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • At Sky News we fully support Broadcast’s campaign to increase the number of women experts seen on current affairs and news programming. We already work hard to ensure our expert guests are as diverse as possible and we will continue to strive to ensure more female experts are seen on Sky News. This is something that I firmly believe in, and I know when saying that I speak for the rest of the team here at Sky News too.

    John Ryley, Head of Sky News

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • We will work with Broadcast on this important issue, as part of our wider commitment to reflecting the society on which our journalists report -but also as part of a continued effort to surprise and inform our audience with new points of view and fresh perspectives.

    Channel 4 News is proud to have a diverse team of exceptional journalists- from those at the start of their career to those who have become established leaders in their field. We are committed to ensuring that the pool of experts we speak to is just as broad and varied.

    Jim Gray, Editor and Ben Monro Davies, Head of Output, Channel 4 News

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Community Channel presents programming to inspire viewers to get involved in the causes that matter, and prides itself on giving voice to thousands of charities, communities and young people from across the UK that want to have their voices heard on a national platform. Through our programming we aim to celebrate, support and improve diversity on and off of our screens.

    Community Channel fully supports Broadcast's campaign to actively improve the representation of female experts on screen and we pledge to do all we can to make this happen.

    Caroline Diehl, chief executive and founder of communications charity Media Trust . Media Trust owns and runs Community Channel

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • The current bias towards male expert interviewees has additional impact in areas such as science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) where the workforce is predominantly male. Female experts are there – but journalists, editors and researchers have to make additional efforts to ensure their representation.

    In recent years the UKRC has commissioned a number of research reports that have explored the ways that women scientists and engineers are depicted in the media and they confirm what this campaign is about: women STEM experts are under represented, and their appearance may be focussed on in ways that undermine their standing as an expert.

    At the UKRC we have lists that can help media contact inspiring and expert women. We can also work with employers, professional bodies, colleges and universities to help women STEM experts build their communication skills. We welcome the campaign.

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