Report Reveals Startling Inequality in Irish Broadcasting

By Sarah O’Brien

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) has unveiled a report showcasing a massive gender imbalance in flagship current affairs programming.

Research undertaken over a three-week period in the latter half of 2014, reveals that 72 percent of those appearing on RTE, Newstalk and Today FM’s main news programmes are male.

The worst offender in terms of female representation was Newstalk at a paltry 18%, with RTE being the best at 37%. Today FM followed closely behind the state broadcaster with 30% female participation.

The ‘Hearing Women’s Voices’ research, carried out by NWCI and DCU, has highlighted a shocking disparity between the numbers of male and female guests.

The report, which was launched today at the Department of Justice and Equality in St. Stephen’s Green, saw Minister Alex White, NWCI Director Orla O’Connor and an expert panel speak at the event.

The NWCI stated firmly that they believed the implementation of gender quotas to be crucial in addressing the current airtime inequality.

“At programme level, someone needs to take responsibility for gender equality, undertake gender reviews and set minimum targets,” a spokesperson said.

It was noted however that RTE Radio One’s Sean O’Rourke show, had managed to increase female speakers by 19 percent in recent years and that Newstalk’s Down to Business was “surprisingly quite balanced”.

Minister Alex White ended the launch by saying there was much to be learned by journalists, broadcasters and politicians alike from the ‘Women’s Voices’ report and that any disparity in gender equality was inexcusable.

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