Making Room For Female Voices
Six years ago women made up just 19% of all experts quoted in news articles and 37% of reporters telling the story.
I know because I was one of them. When I started reporting business news for CNN in 2001, I was a minority down at the male dominated New York Stock Exchange. When I moved to anchoring, most of the guests and executives I interviewed were men.
A lot of us worked hard to change that. On my show we made a concerted effort to book women analysts and feature female founders whenever we could. We adopted The Geena Davis Institute mantra, "If she can see it, she can be it" and built that into our mission statement. At the BBC they called their effort The 50:50 project.
Corporate HR leaders and D&I officers have also pushed from their end, trying to elevate women into more public positions where they could seen as expert voices. The result has been a noticeable shift in gender representation. Here in the United States, it's common now to see women on television, reporting the news and speaking as experts in medicine, law, finance, pretty much everything.
That's the good news. Unfortunately, globally, the number of women represented in the media is still low. When you look at women of color, the numbers are even more alarming. We only need to look at the sexist comments and resignations of two top officials from the Tokyo Olympic committee to see how deep stereotypes run. More needs to be done to help women overcome the cultural barriers and gender bias that still dominate. We also need to invest in women earlier and give them the tools and the opportunity to have their voice heard. Changing the numbers is the easier part. Changing the culture so that those "expert" women are valued and respected is the work that still needs to happen.