“It’s not our fault”
“We tried to find female experts”
“We couldn’t find women to appear on the programme”
These sentiments could be remixed into the theme tunes of all major news outlets or television shows, because the number of women presenting and commenting our everyday media is shockingly low. This is reflected in a news story from a popular BBC show in the UK, Have I Got News For You, which draws in over 4 million viewers. This show rounds up political news, and in its 28-year history the panel show has been presented by 11 politicians, but only one has been female.
In response to the lack of female politicians taking the centre seat, the hosts have claimed that this is not the fault of the programme’s producers, and suggested that women were too modest for the challenge. Adding:
“The producers always ask more women than men. More women say no. Right from the early days, that’s been the case. And everyone you think should have been asked has been. Really, they really have.”
This show is not the only one that uses ‘we couldn’t find any women’ excuse and I have a hard time buying it. With women making up 54% of the world’s population, I am sure a comprehensive search would have uncovered (at least) one female expert perfect for the role and willing to fill it.
This issue has been something that I have been personally touched by, whilst trying to pursue a career in TV presenting, receiving comments about how credible I would appear to the audience because I’m a woman. With a lot of mainstream media outlets not stepping up to the plate or taking responsibility for not utilising the wealth of female talent, it’s no surprise that women are taking the opportunity to make their own media – including women in STEM. One of the reasons I started my Gray Matter YouTube series was to increase the number of women in STEM in the media, and with my ability to use a camera and my ‘womenness’, I decided to take the power into my own hands and create my own media. And I’m not the only one.
There is a plethora of women in STEM making YouTube videos, making their own content and helping to rectify the stark lack of women positioned in presenter roles in science programming.
As women in STEM are making their own media and showcasing their expertise, they are essentially waving a big flag with ‘we are here’ embroidered onto it, and this is making the ‘we couldn’t find any women’ excuse is getting harder and harder to use.
Just some of the amazing women in STEM making their own media can be found here: