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BBC makes strides on gender parity initiative

UK pubcaster the BBC has dramatically increased the number of female contributors who appear on air as the company continues working towards complete gender parity through its “50:50 Project.” The 50:50 ...
May 15, 2019

UK pubcaster the BBC has dramatically increased the number of female contributors who appear on air as the company continues working towards complete gender parity through its “50:50 Project.”

The 50:50 Project challenges teams across the organization to achieve 50% female contributors in English language news, current affairs and topical programs by 2020. Contributors refer to all BBC reporters, commentators, spokespeople, analysts, academics and case studies featured across BBC content.

When the goal was set last year, 74 English-language outlets and 10 World Service language teams were already signed up to the initiative. At the time, 27% of them recorded having at least 50% female contributors. Last month, that number had reached 74%.

Additionally, more than 500 teams across the BBC are now signed up to the project, and more than 20 external media partners have committed to replicating the initiative, with the BBC sharing its successful methodology with interested parties.

More than a third of audiences who took part in a nationally representative survey reported that they had noticed an increase in the number of women in BBC programs compared to a year ago. A fifth of women said improving female representation had increased their enjoyment.

“It’s amazing to see such a remarkable change in just a year — you can see and hear it right across our programming,” said BBC director-general Tony Hall in a statement. “I want the BBC to lead the way on equality and fairness, and this project demonstrates what can be achieved. Better representation is something the whole media industry needs to address so I’m really pleased others are now following us and adopting this project for their own organisation.”

“We want to ensure the BBC reflects its audiences better — and that’s at the heart of the ’50:50 Project’,” added director of news Fran Unsworth. “It’s extremely encouraging to see the progression made by so many teams to ensure we have more female voices represented across our news and current affairs output and it can only add to the quality of the programming we offer our audiences.”

Said live political programs’ assistant editor Miranda Holt: “Politics can be a male dominated environment but our team’s success in the ’50:50 Project’ has given us the satisfaction of seeing new voices — politicians, journalists and commentators — on all our live political programs. We have shared these contacts via the 50:50 hub across BBC News and they have subsequently appeared on other outlets. We’ve had all female panels on the Politics Live program a couple of times and had great responses from viewers on social media. Overall, we’ve had a positive response from political parties who accept that this is how BBC News operates and have been more imaginative in which spokespeople they put up for interview.”

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