Thursday, 23 February 2017

Expert Women – the answer to Middle-Aged White Bloke Night?

Screengrab from "Expert Women" web page.

The good news. The BBC is advertising for women to join a pool of experts available for interview on their specialist subject. They are putting on  a free “media familiarisation day” for women experts interested in appearing on television, radio and online as contributors or presenters.

The bad news. They’ve got a whole list of things they want experts in, but “music” isn’t one. “Women in music” is.

Also, they specify “production rather than performance”.

This raised a few questions for me.

  • Why have they asked for production specifically? There are plenty of women performers, DJs, promoters, writers etc who would also be able to provide expert comment on the subject. There are plenty of men pontificating about music every Friday night without any particular authority.
  • Why are they looking for women to talk only about “women in music”? Women are also able to give expert comment on music in general so why ghettoise them? They seem quite happy for men to comment on music made by women.
If they opened this out to women in different roles and women commenting on music in general, they would be giving women parity with men. Everyone knows there’s a huge gender gap in the amount of women commentators on the BBC’s music programmes as well as a huge amount of grassroots dissatisfaction with this situation (my friends call BBC4’s Friday night programmes “middle aged white bloke night”).

So I wrote and asked them if they could explain the reasoning behind their approach to music.

To be fair, they wrote back straight away. But it was a standard letter, encouraging me to apply anyway (even though I never said I wanted to).

They told me: “The list of specialisms on the application page gives areas which our colleagues in BBC News have told us are particularly needed  - BUT we welcome applications from all areas of expertise.”

It didn’t say on the original page that this was about news programmes, but it’s disappointing if that’s the case, because it means nothing is going to change on Friday nights.

So I wrote back and asked them for contact details for their colleagues in BBC News so I could follow up with them on this matter of principle. And I asked them if this scheme is only about getting women onto news programmes or does it also feed in to documentaries.

This time they didn’t reply.

No comments:

Post a Comment