Women are outnumbered in news stories, especially when the topics are business, technology, politics and sports. From NPR to journalism associations, this problem is periodically documented – and lamented – in the U.S.
Now British women are having a consciousness-raising moment. The British Broadcasting Corporation is so frustrated with the chronic under-representation of female voices in its stories that it is sponsoring workshops to cultivate female sources.
Companies, nonprofits and universities should take a clue from the BBC’s effort and inventory their subject matter experts to detect women who are well positioned for spokesperson responsibilities. Women are a secret weapon for winning media mentions. Editors and news directors want stories to have gender (and ethnically) diverse voices representing many points of view.
That translates to a clear advantage for female sources. Women who have subject matter authority and are confident and prepared to navigate on-the-record interviews have a better chance of being interviewed, and a better chance of being included in a story. Communication leaders can accelerate their messaging goals simply by adopting the BBC’s approach and grow their own female talent.