UK survey shows lack of women on-air

Staff Writer

The debate about the lack of women in radio has often been a hot topic.

Last year Wendy Harmer wrote A 'Fail' for AM Radio about the lack of women in commercial talk radio (see here), then there was Scott Muller's response to Wendy here.

12 months ago Brad March listed the 27 Most Influential Women in Radio here.

In the UK, a lobby group called 'Sound Women' have researched the amount of women that appear on-air in that country and have revealed that only 20% of solo shows are hosted by female presenters.

They also showed that the ratio of women to men on radio goes down further when it comes to shows with multiple hosts.

The group also surveyed 20 of Britain's most successful female broadcasters, including Jo Whiley, Clare Balding and Annie Nightingale, and found that none of them had been asked if they would like to co-present with a woman rather than a man.

Nightingale (pictured), the longest-serving Radio 1 DJ, agreed there should be more women on radio but said: "You don't want just want to be there to make up the numbers. You want to be there because you are the best person for the job."

She was Radio 1's first female DJ. It took another 12 years before the second, Janice Long, got a gig.

Nightingale told the Guardian:

"Once I opened the door, I thought they would all come rushing through – and they didn't. I felt like a token woman for a long time. I still don't know why. There are many more opportunities for women now, but you are up against some very competitive blokes. You have to be quite a competitive person to get into radio. You have to have broad shoulders and be resilient and to want to keep up with technology."

Music critic and UK broadcaster Miranda Sawyer said: "If more than half the population are women, let's put more women on radio. It's not about their gender, it's also about their experiences – what they have been through in life and their perspective."

Sound Women looked at 30 stations across the UK counting presenter and co-presenter airtime hours only. Reporters, newsreaders or contributors were not included.

It found that when it came to breakfast and drive, only 1 in 8 presenters were women.

The BBC responded to the research saying: "The BBC is committed to being an equal opportunities employer with many talented women in high-profile presenting roles across our radio networks. There is always more we can do and we continue to collaborate with Sound Women in addition to running our training, networking and mentoring initiatives to address this industry-wide issue."

Read more in The Guardian here.
Pic: BBC/David Venni

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