@BBCwomanshour this morning debated two oft debated topics,
1) the subject of rape, which has yet to see them join the top lawyers common sense campaign against the rape law
2) why women are under-represented on the BBC, particularly looking at radio.
The latter debate was prompted by the possibility that the next DG of the BBC may be the first woman to get the job, but the debate was more about presenters equal rights than generic equal opportunities. It included mention of the newly formed group “sound women” designed to lobby for the interests of women as presenters in the radio and audio world. They mentioned, yet again, that 52% of our population are women, as if that was relevant to the potential work force…
As an ex “sound man” I feel it worth pointing out one element that escaped their oft repeated and somewhat shallow debate on “Why?” there are not more women presenters. It’s not a radical point either, just one that requires people to look beyond correlation to cause and effect.
There are many fewer women on the radio than men – that’s a fact
This is clearly due to sexism operating at the level of selection – that’s not the case.
There are very few men or women with high pitched voices on our radio stations
This is due to the fact that people find deeper voices more assuring and sexy – research says.
Could it be that there are fewer women with deep voices than there are men? do you think?
You need to be careful before deciding that there ‘should’ be more male midwives or more women miners. All the research shows the most gender equal countries in the world (again research says) have no greater proportion of women wanting to be engineers or men wanting to be midwives than much lower ranked UK. the research tends to suggest that when true equal opportunity is enacted, people are freer to go for the roles that may well be conditioned to their genetic or hormonally influenced imperative.
So, do women want to be radio presenters?
and if we were the most equal country in the world, would we get any more?
I suspect not. We would then all be free to relax into choosing people for roles that they both wanted and were suited to, and when it comes to what the listening public wants, mens voices tend to win out, with both women and men.
TV news presenters on the other hand…
(there is a case to answer there)