BBC addresses shortage of women on air with free training day

A serious shortage of female sources and contributors in newspapers, news programs and current affairs is not just an Australian problem.

In the UK, women make up less than one third of all media contributors and less than 20% of expert contributors, according to Women in Journalism.

Part of the issue stems from the amount of time it takes news editors and journalists to source new women for comment, particularly while on deadline.

The BBC's training division, the BBC Academy, has come up with an initiative to help, inviting 30 leading spokeswomen to attend a free media training day last Friday.

The Expert Women's Day, held in partnership with industry trade mag Broadcast, saw a selection of women chosen from fields such as politics, science, history and business invited to participate in practical television and camera training, specialised coaching and networking sessions with editors and producers.

The women were also invited to participate in a live panel discussion, and offered training on giving grabs to camera and discussing their areas of expertise on air.

BBC Academy director Anne Morrison told The Guardian around 2000 women expressed an interest in participating. With a focus on science, the Academy then invited 450 finalists to submit a video demo from which the final 30 were selected.

Morrison said she expects the women to immediately receive bookings to participate as experts in future news stories, and will post the contact details and footage from the 30 women on a database accessible for journalists.

The huge amount of interest in the program has seen two more Expert Women training events planned for the future, including a follow-up event for the 30 experts trained on Friday.

Locally a resource called Women for Media, an initiative of Carol Schwartz and the Women's Leadership Institute of Australia, aims to promote the number of female sources quoted by journalists through a database listing contact details and areas of expertise of leading female experts.

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