In the week of International Women’s Day it seems appropriate to look at the apparent gender gap in the broadcast media when it comes to female experts.
Research shows that male experts on average outnumber their female counterparts by 4:1 and on some broadcast programmes the ration is even higher, reaching 6:1. Why is that? Do the broadcasters prefer male experts to female experts? I don’t think so. Is it that female experts do not tend to put themselves forward? Perhaps.
When I give media coaching, I often hear talented women say that they don’t consider themselves experts, even when they quite clearly are experts. Are these female experts being held back by the fear of the unknown, not knowing quite what will be expected of them when they are being interviewed live by the broadcast media? Some research suggests that producers tend to book women experts for daytime and lunchtime shows when audiences are dominated by women and that male experts dominate later in the day when more men will be watching.
We won’t find answers to these questions unless we debate the issue. That is why we at Lansons Live are teaming up with Sky News presenter Dharshini David and producer Naomi Kerbel this week to try to uncover what it is holding all these inspiring and talented women back. Whether they lack confidence or just feel confident in their own abilities with no need to broadcast it, we need women on our TV and radio. We know how influential the broadcast media are in terms of shaping perceptions and we need a balanced representation of women on our screens and airwaves. So women step forward, we need you!