Germaine Greer a leader when it comes to giving a quote
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As the ladies behind Women for Media, a new arm of Carol Schwartz's Women's Leadership Institute Australia will attest, there are plenty of excellent women willing to offer their expert views on issues reported in the news.
But many of these women are frequently overlooked.
According to The Australian's media section today, there's a small handful of expert men and women who journalists like to turn to in their hour of need (the one before deadline). Seven of the top 10 published are male.
Media Monitors analysed print, radio and television in order to come up with the list of individuals who get mentioned by journalists more often than the rest -- those able to provide a 'rentaquote', as The Australian puts it. Researching the period from January until last week and including a pool of 50 selected to be researched (that excluded key 'newsworthy' people like Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart), the Media Monitors' list found entrepreneur Dick Smith was more likely to be quoted than anyone else, followed by Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton, CommSec's Craig James, former Labor MP Graham Richardson and Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James.
No women made the top five, but there were three in the top 10: Ita Buttrose at number six, Germaine Greer at eight and head of the Australian National Retailers Association, Margy Osmond, in the ninth spot. A Media Monitors spokesperson told Women's Agenda this morning that commentator Mia Freedman just missed out on the top 10.
While such analysis will always come down to the news agenda of a given period (or perhaps comments a 'rentaquoter' makes on the ABC's Q&A), it's interesting that Germaine Greer makes the top 10 cut while Westpac's Gail Kelly and other leading female CEOs and directors are nowhere to be seen.
According to research for The Women's Leadership Institute earlier this year and based on a sample of 81 metropolitan newspapers across Australia, women account for just 20% of all commentary in our papers. When it comes to finance stories, it's just 10%.
On a daily basis, it's difficult to find women commenting on business stories in our metropolitan papers.
A quick and completely unscientific scan of the business pages in today's newspapers highlights the dearth of female voices. Of 12 business stories published in The Australian today with around 20 sources (those named and quoted), just three of them were women.
It was even more difficult to find female voices in the business sections of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today, a story on HSBC China chief Helen Wong stood out from the rest, as did published advice on becoming an exporter by Austrade's advisory services acting manager Belinda Hay. It's always refreshing to see female voices in the Australian Financial Review – but while a number of women featured in the education liftout today, there were few quoted throughout the straight business stories.
Meanwhile, Media Monitors found that Dick Smith has been mentioned 13,684 times this year.
Time to expand the contact book, perhaps? Here's a good place to start.