In response to criticism that it relies far too heavily on male sources, the BBC has taken the famed "binder full of women" technology into the 21st century by launching a database — and an accompanying YouTube channel — of female experts on a variety of topics, with the goal of increasing the female presence on radio and television.
Studies have shown that male experts are four times more likely to get radio or TV airtime than females, but BBC's lack of female representation is particularly extreme — a 2011 report in The Guardian that 83.5% of the reporters and guests on Radio 4's flagship news program Today were men. The new database strives to bridge this gap, noting that the problem is two-pronged: not only do editors and journalists lack access to female experts, but also female experts are less likely to volunteer for opportunities to share their knowledge, as Gail Collins of The New York Times told Poynter.
Websites like these serve as more than just a forum to advertise women's talents. They also provide women with the collective confidence that there are others out there who are willing to push themselves forward.
Taking the call to augmenting confidence even further, the BBC has not merely set up a database — it's also initiated an "Expert Woman" training program. So far, of the 2,000 women who applied for the first training day, 60 were chosen to receive media training (although 120 others whose applications "showed promise" were added to the database as well). The Guardian notes that the women in attendance at the training session immediately formed "an early queue for the loo." Classic women. Always queuing for that loo.
As of last week, nine of the female experts have appeared on television, and the next Expert Woman's Day will take place on May 1.
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