Despite the fact we all can quickly recall a scene of Louise Minchin reporting while sitting on the BBC Breakfast sofa, women are insufficiently present on TV.
Gender imparity is widely seen in the broadcast media industry, as one out of every four experts shown on British programmes is female, reported a research group from the school of Broadcasting at City University London.
The UK does not lack outstanding women, but not enough females were being invited into the studio to make their voice known to the public. Broadcasting serves as an important public channel and greatly affects the conception of the society. A lack of women representation on TV resulted in fewer public female role models and also a lower recognition of women’s achievements across the country.
Imbalanced gender distribution in broadcasting
Women guests who have been invited into the broadcasting studio this year are reportedly to be much less than men, as the findings of the research group show. Especially, it pointed out females are rare to be seen on politics and sports programmes. Five major British programmes and networks – BBC News at Ten, ITV News at Ten, Today, Channel 4 News and Sky News – have been monitored in the research.
The data, released by Professor Howell, the leader of the research group, at the International Women’s Day Panel, indicated that during 2012-2013, the broadcasting industry on average had 4.4 male experts to one female; during 2013-2014, the ratio was 4.1; and the latest data showed that it has slightly changed for the better, with 3.5 men to one woman. As the infographic shows, in 2016 ITV has the worse problem of gender imbalance, with a rate of 4.9; while Channel 4 News performed best with 2.6. BBC is in-between, about 3.9, which also needs improvements.
Honorary graduates while part-time job workers
The insufficient public exposure of women with authority is just one aspect of the gender gap in the UK. Women are seen to have taken up the majority of part-time workers.
Women are reported to work as part-time 2.5 times more than men, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The same problem is also seen in the broadcasting industry, that men made up the majority of presenters and reporters.
“70 per cent of our broadcasting students are women,” said Professor Lis Howell, “but the majority (of screen reporters) are men…Men often get jobs in the traditionally structural broadcasting industry and women will go into freelancing or casual labour.”
Professor Lis Howell suggests despite the majority of women work in Broadcasting as part-time, they actually support the industry from underneath. Filmed by Yiwen Li at City University London
The Broadcasting industry is not the only victim though; the problem also plagues the Higher Education industry. In 2014 females comprised over half of part-time academic staff and three-quarters of part-time professionals and support staff. This is far too common to take it as a single issue.
The imbalance of genders at the workplace cannot be taken as evidence to doubt women’s abilities. Instead, they were reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to make up the majority (58.2%) of first-degree holders in last three years.
All the facts mean the UK still has not achieved a complete degree of parity between different sexes when individuals pursue professional opportunities and personal development, as figures from the World Economic Forum reveals.
Having ambitions but less confidence
Social factors might be crucial influences but not the only cause. The research conducted by the University of Oxford in 2015 suggests that, the psychological differences between sexes, i.e. the distinctive views of how men and women are seeing themselves, has also make some contribution. It reported that female undergraduates showed less confidence and more hesitation when approaching potential employers and applying for jobs.
Nevertheless, this is not only happening with job hunters. Women who have worked for a while also showed a reserved attitude towards challenges. “When I was assigned with tasks, I tended to be more personally reserved about agreeing to do it unless I had a full idea of what it is about,” said Racheal, 22, a Management student of the University of Southampton.
Contrasting to herself, her male colleagues always threw themselves fully into new tasks. “Most women are quite uncomfortable putting themselves into a position where they could fail,” she said. The self-reserved mind commonly possessed by women might provide some explanations of the situation of fewer females working as full time, compared to men, in broadcasting.
89 years yet to reach gender parity
A great amount of effort has been made into closing the gap, while the results is not that satisfied. 40 years ago, the UK Parliament had practiced the Equal Pay Act 1970 and then in 2010 the government developed it into the Equality Act 2010. The policy has been updated over the years, but the situation has not been much improved. HeforShe, a solidarity campaign for gender equality, predicted, that there is still a good 89 years to go before the gap between males and females in the workplace is finally closed.
More than large coverage on gender imparity issues, the broadcasting industry is expected to stand out and join the campaign. With more women are present on TV and achievements of women are better recognised by the society, the progress of gender parity may accelerate. Hopefully, our generation will reach the day when there is no more gap between women and men.
Sub-editted by Diana Odero