Why are there so few women on radio and television?
Whether or not news providers actually shape the public's views, they are a crucial determinant of the agenda for public discourse in a democratic society. But how balanced can that agenda be when one half of the population is heavily absent from it? At City University London in April, Dame Tessa Jowell described this phenomenon as "a major challenge" when she opened the Women on Air conference, at which the latest results of Broadcast Magazine's Expert Women survey were discussed.
In Ireland, Women on Air is also the name of another initiative seeking to address this issue. Founded in 2010 by Irish-American journalist Margaret Ward, Women on Air is a voluntary networking group that runs seminars and informal training workshops to help give women the skills and confidence to go on radio and television. It was a newspaper article claiming female voices are only heard on radio around 15% of the time that got Ward interested in the area.