Public misconception over number of female news broadcasters

There is a deep misconception over how many female experts appear on UK TV and radio news, according to a poll.

Broadcast Ready: Panel discuss poll findings (Credit: Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk)
Broadcast Ready: Panel discuss poll findings (Credit: Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk)

A survey of 1,173 British people carried out by Broadcast Ready, a database for journalists to find verified experts, and market researcher TNS, found that the majority of people (54 per cent) believe there is an equal number of male and female news experts, when in reality the figure is just 25 per cent.

Almost a third of adults (31 per cent) said they would like to see more female experts on the news while an overwhelming majority of adults (82 per cent) had no preference over the gender of a news expert.

Most adults (65 per cent) said they were happy for the number of female experts to remain the same. However, Kerry Hopkins, managing director of Broadcast Ready, said: "It would be interesting to see how many of those polled would want more female experts on the news if they knew one in four are women."

Possible reasons for the misconception are a conditioned expectation of male experts among audiences that has somehow made the audience feel it is ‘normalised’.

Broadcast Ready has developed a campaign off the back of City University's Expert Women initiative, which has been monitoring gender imbalance on the news for almost three years.

Hopkins added: "Since Broadcast Ready began, 61 per cent of the experts we have helped secure broadcast interviews with have been Expert Women and 39 per cent have been male experts. Government figures in 2013 show that approximately 28 per cent of the male workforce is highly skilled, whereas 25 per cent of the female workforce is highly skilled. This means there should be no reason why women shouldn’t approach their board or PR departments within their organisations, to put themselves forward as being one of the spokespeople for their company. There’s a huge pool of female talent across most industries - it’s just not being reflected on the news."

The poll also revealed that news experts who appear on the TV are likely to be held in higher regard than those quoted in newspapers, with 36 per cent agreeing they are ‘highly credible’ and 32 per cent ‘the best in their field’. Newspaper-quoted experts were rated lower at 25 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.
 
When it comes to which factors people care about most when assessing a broadcaster’s credibility, knowledge of the subject matter came top, followed by how engaging they were and their impartiality. How good looking they were, their gender and ethnic background were largely irrelevant. 

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