50:50 Gender Split of Experts on BBC?

Published: 17 May 2018

Country: UK

BBC_Gender_splitThe BBC has announced that it is seeking to ensure that there is a 50:50 gender split of expert voices across its programmes by April 2019.

The BBC has already pledged to increase women on screen, on air and in lead roles to 50% in 2020. When the Media Diversity Institute (MDI) team met the Head of BBC Diversity Department, Tunde Ogungbesan, he explained that women would make up half the people who appear on its TV and radio stations and in leading on-screen roles by 2020.

The BBC also said that 15% of staff and leadership would come from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds by 2020, with BAME people taking the same proportion of on-air and leading roles. According to the BBC strategy, people with disabilities would make up 8% of staff and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people also 8%.

The pledge for gender split of experts builds on the success of a grassroots project, which has already increased the balance of experts on many of the BBC’s news programmes. For instance, Outside Source adopted the system of self – monitoring in January 2017 and by April last year had achieved a 50:50 gender split.

The BBC announced that it would always interview the relevant minister, official, or organisational representative appropriate to a story as they are the individuals in charge or are accountable. This concept is focused on ‘expert contributors’, who comment or report on events or bring particular expertise to a news story or item and will be measured across each month. Some programmes which already have a focus on gender would not be expected to achieve a 50:50 balance because of the very nature of the programme’s editorial remit, says the BBC.

The BBC claims that it is committed to more female representation. Its Expert Women scheme, which launched in 2012, aims to help media train more women in a series of free media familiarisation days held in London, Salford, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast during the last five years. More than 100 women have taken part to date with several new media careers being launched along the way.

In the same time, recently it was disclosed that the top male BBC journalists and presenters are paid, in some cases, 4 times more than their female colleagues. A gender pay gap stays one of the hardest questions that the BBC has to resolve if wants to achieve gender balance and put discrimination based on gender to an end.