A friend sent this blog post by Steve Paikin, the anchor of Ontario's important current affairs program "The Agenda," that includes an explanation of why there are so few female guests on the show.
He states, "We've had far too many programs where male guests outnumber female guests three to one or four to one. We've even had a few programs where there have been no female guests at all."
He outlines some of the more obvious reasons for this imbalance: "If we're doing a debate on economics, 90% of economists are men. So already you're fishing in a lake where the odds are stacked against you. And unfortunately, it's the same for foreign affairs, politicians, the sciences, labour issues, and the list goes on. The vast majority of "experts" in the subjects we cover are men."
Okay. I am not sure that his statistics are accurate, but it is true that men tend to outnumber women in these fields for a variety of complex reasons including overt discrimination, lack of encouragement, and harassment. But there must be some credible experts on these topics who happen to be women, and presumably if your goal is to increase women's visibility on the show your staff can dig until they unearth them.
I gave him the benefit of the doubt, though, until I read this:
But we've also discovered there also seems to be something in women's DNA that makes them harder to book. No man will ever say, "Sorry, can't do your show tonight, I'm taking care of my kids." The man will find someone to take care of his kids so he can appear on a TV show. Women use that excuse on us all the time.
No man will say, "Sorry, can't do your show tonight, my roots are showing." I'm serious. We get that as an excuse for not coming on. But only from women.
No man will say, "Sorry can't do your show tonight, I'm not an expert in that particular aspect of the story." They'll get up to speed on the issue and come on. Women beg off. And worse, they often recommend a male colleague in their place.
Women still bear most of the responsibility for childcare, and most of the stigma for being perceived as neglecting their children. Women are savaged for not looking perfect, in ways that men are not, however irrelevant their area of expertise is to the way they look. And for these reasons and so many more, women tend to be less confident than men generally.
Maybe The Agenda should do a show on that topic. I'm sure they could find binders and binders of experts.