21st century feminism

Sunday, 7 March 2010

British TV... Good if you're a man.

A new piece of research out tomorrow highlights the gender gap on TV in the UK. The Observer reports on it
here. There are various ups and downs but generally speaking one woman appears for every two men. 
  • in soaps women are represented just about equally
  • in comedy and drama they make up just 4 in 10 participants
  • in serious broadcasting they go down to one third
  • in news they make up just 31% and when women do feature 69% of their representation is to discuss softer topics, like heath, cookery, or culture.
The research is set to be released to coincide with International Women's Day tomorrow. Interestingly, Sky News are planning an all women line up for the day too. They say they're "pushing the boundaries" to me it feels a bit tokenistic. Are they just letting the women take over for a special day and then expecting them to resume the usual marginalization? 

The place of women on UK television leaves much room for improvement. For me the two big issues are the pubic discourse which marginalizes women's roles, voices, perspectives and stories. And, of course, fewer women's roles means fewer jobs for women in the industry, so qualified and experienced women, along with women wanting to build up that experience and reputation, are hindered. And I've not even mentioned the ageism which rules women's representation on the box. We can talk about that another time.

Question Time have also taken the step of announcing an all women audience on March 11th. Everything in me wants to cheer with the Fawcett Society, but I can't help feeling that inviting an audience of women to address the usual mixed panel and male chair doesn't address the bigger issues of women in power (especially in light of the stats I mentioned), or on TV (in light of the report). But it is, of course, a step in the right direction. 

After 40 years of feminism I sometimes can't help feeling we've not got very far. Rosie Boycott expresses a similar sentiment and some interesting reflections in an interview here

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