Author Katherine Engels waxes lyrical about structural inequalities in the media, gender, dinosaurs & Radio 4

by Samantha Asumadu & Natasha Kalantar

  1. Women make up only 20% of solo radio broadcasters. I’m not surprised, but I’m depressed. via @guardian
  2. And 0% of all @Guardian editors in history > RT @lisaocarroll Women make up only 20% of solo radio broadcasters:
  3. And you’re 10 times more likely to hear male voices than female ones on shows hosted by two or more people. Again, not surprised but ARGH.
  4. And I notice this recurrent gesture that nearly all make, when discussing gender imbalance, of saying ‘oh but we want the best qualified!’
  5. ‘We want to ensure that the women who are there, are there on merit.’ …
  6. This always makes me laugh. Do people really believe that every man in the media is there on merit? Because he’s the best person for job?..
  7. …The point about structural inequality is precisely that a) voices don’t get heard which should get heard, and b) voices getting heard…
  8. …aren’t always getting heard because they’re so great, or so qualified, or the best person for the job…
  9. …They’re often there because we favour their voices; we’re used to them; they fit a certain type we associate with quality…
  10. And the thing is, many of the male voices on our boy-saturated radio are, I think, quite crap.
  11. Justin Webb: not smart enough. John Humphrys: repetitive, lazy, boorish. Melvyn Bragg: insecure, aggressive, patronising.
  12. I don’t think they’re there because they’re so amazingly excellent at their jobs. I think they’re there because they’re there.
  13. And because they, and media outlets, are lazy, and rest on their laurels.
  14. By dint of saturation, we associate male voices with serious interrogative penetrating insight. And we hear female voices as its opposite.
  15. The only way this can change is if people start hearing MORE WOMEN’S VOICES, in all kinds of programmes. Get on it, radio people.
  16. Can you imagine a reversal? The Today programme with a reversed ratio of male and female voices?
  17. I sometimes fantasise about this – the media gender imbalance flipped over – and wonder how it might affect the conversation.
  18. There are a ton of women who hold jobs in areas that were male
    dominated.The first woman to be accepted into medical school in the
    United States was accepted by accident (thought to be a joke) less than
    two hundred years ago; the “first woman of finance”, Muriel Siebert, was
    in the late 1960s; the first female conductor of the Met Opera wasn’t
    even thirty years ago; and the first woman to win Best Director at the
    Oscars was only three years ago. According to Catalyst.Org, 1978 was
    “the first year that at least 50% of all women over the age of 16
    participated in the labor force”.
  19. So we have: terrible ratio of men to women in radio; sexist commentary on women’s sports; crap gender ratio of reviewers and books reviewed.
  20. And, if anyone doubts that all this has effects, or is important, I offer you Melvyn Bragg’s appalling In Our Time episode on Chekhov.
  21. Just one little example of how women’s voices are seen as dominatable, interrupteable, unauthoritative.
  22. Feminism has indeed always been a thing but in the recent months
    following the rebuttal to the Bank Of England’s attempt to remove
    Elizabeth Fry of te £5 note, Wendy Davis and her jaw dropping filibuster
    and many many other events; it seems women and girls all around the
    world who may never have considered them selves feminists are calling
    for equality in all aspects…
  23. The New York Times Quotes 3.4 Men for Every Woman #women #media #gender @TheWomensRoomUK
  24. With people all over bringing information like this to the mainstream
    via social media; more and more pressure is being put on traditional
    media outlets, broadcasters, and TV Shows to incorporate more women or
    people of colour into their processes..
  25. Are female politicians treated differently in the news?
  26. But even when strong women in places of power are treated dismissively
    because of their gender, is there any hope for radio equality in the
    near future?
    Structural inequalities, assisted by current manifestations of white supremacist
    or male supremacist ideologies, are key features of the capitalist
    system, and help to sustain and reproduce it.

2 thoughts on “A Plague Named Inequality

  1. A brilliant piece highlighting the gender inequality in the media that we’ve become so used to. And it didn’t even touch on the way Australia’s first female Prime Minister was hounded out of office. I would never dare to criticise the ‘big beasts’ of Radio 4 like Justin Webb, John Humphrys, and Melvyn Bragg, but we certainly have a lot of mediocre and same-ish talent clogging up our airwaves, having attained their position just because they are in the club. I think society as a whole would benefit if the political and media elite would only look outside their own tiny pool when seeking to employ new talent.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.