Friday, 27 January 2012

Spot The Soprano

Some people play a  game called Spot the Soprano. Tuning in to the Today programme, they count how many male voices they hear before the first  woman’s. Apparently  the norm  is 9  or 10. It is about six months since the producer said words to the effect that women were too wet or too weak for the macho environment  of Today. That is about  the usual time-gap between surges of synthetic press indignation  about the under representation of women in the media and public life. This week we have seen another and  the Today programme is  used as an example – as always -with details about its four male presenters and one lone woman. Is it because it's the only programme important or influential people listen to? As it happens I have been on  Today, most recently in 2010 when I was asked about excessive graphic violence in crime fiction. It certainly true that more people than usual said they  had heard me after that broadcast. But as a contributor I was a rarity, not simply as a woman but because I was not  talking about politics or business. As the producer confirmed, the type of people the programme presenters interview – senior politicians and chief executives - are predominantly men.

Of course the news media exist to reflect and describe society not to change it. It is those senior politicians and chief executives who shouldn't be all male, but until women break into their world in greater numbers, I expect the old men of  Today  still to be broadcasting when they are the even older men of tomorrow


  1. I've never listened to the Today programme. Seems as if I have not been missing anything.

    Seriously, I agree with you, and Norway is a case-example of what happens in a society which, across the board, won't accept this kind of thing.

  2. Yes - and isn't it interesting that in the fascinating Borgen (such a Saturday night treat!) Denmark's first woman Prime Minister is still surrounded by a cabinet and a private office full of men!