If you've seen Anchorman, you've already had a primer in the history of inequality in the workplace, when it comes to broadcast news. But, that (admittedly hilarious) film is supposed to showcase an era of sexism past, not present. And yet, the surprising results of the first census of TV presenters in Britain indicate that female broadcasters are swiftly dropped by the age of 50, with older women representing only 5% of the faces seen regularly on TV.
What makes these results even more surprising is that 39% of on-screen jobs are held by women, which is a much higher rate of representation than we see in other profession. That would sound like progress, except for the fact that women are much more likely to be removed from their roles as they age. Despite the fact that recent uproar for such practice has proven successful (Miriam O'Reilly's 2009 lawsuit against Countryfile and Arlene Phillips' removal from Strictly Come Dancing come to mind), the trend is clear, here.
According to the report, BBC have made massive efforts to keep female reporters on the air for longer, featuring a collection of 50+ women as regular reporters, as well as comedian Victoria Wood (59) and businesswoman Margaret Mountford (61), who both present prime-time shows. But these are anecdotal exceptions, and the overall numbers remain troubling.
So, what do you think? Are networks keeping 50+ women on air to appease the outcry of their audience, or is there an actual, albeit slow, shift coming in the broadcasting business? (The Times)
Photos: Courtesy of Dreamworks