Friday, 11 November 2011

A letter from a listener

"Hi Bidisha

I’ve just been directed to your piece on women in radio by a young woman, the daughter of my friend. My friend and I share regular tallies of the low numbers of any women’s voices on the Today programme. Lots of rage and gnashing of teeth. I have written to the producers/editors/ complaints departments in vain.

My point is that not only is there a dearth of women presenters – women are routinely not invited on to the Today programme to discuss the topics presented, women’s names are not even referred to in discussions. The words “her”and “she” are not heard. Education controversy – let’s wheel out Chris Woodhead, Anthony Seldon – because clearly there has never been a notable women headteacher or schools inspector. It’s not just laziness, a question of the usual suspects invited on the programme over and over again - it’s a powerful bias that ensures that women’s voices simply don’t matter, that women don’t matter. I sit and listen and watch the minutes tick by as we are not only marginalised, but are inaudible, invisible, non-existent.

You could land here from Mars, tune in to the Today programme and - on some days - I kid you not – up to an hour later not have a clue that women exist at all.

I’m 60 in December – all that struggle in the 1970’s - and I cannot bear it. How many other young women are going to protest?

Another point - if Woman's Hour can respond at 10am to a breaking news story and get women on the show - academic/politician/vox pop/historian/scientist/other worker or professional/whatever - to interview, just why can't the Today programme do the same?!

I also emailed Matthew Bannister on Last Word a while ago to ask him how is that women don't seem to be dying nearly as much as men- and I've noticed the programme has improved somewhat - at least he replied to me and said they were trying."

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