City academics provide expert advice for House of Lords report on women in broadcasting
Two City University London academics were called upon as Specialist Advisers for a House of Lords inquiry into the role of women in broadcasting.
Professor Lis Howell and Andrew Worthley offered their views to the Lords' Communications Committee, which concluded in its report that more must be done to increase the number of women in news and current affairs.
The report explains women are "severely underrepresented" on and off air - especially women aged over 50 - despite making up a larger proportion of audiences than men and 51 per cent of the population.
It cited a recent City study that revealed there were three male reporters on UK flagship news programmes for every female one. Research has also shown women make up only 26 per cent of experts and commentators.
Professor Howell, Director of Broadcasting in the Department of Journalism, was asked to be a Specialist Adviser because of her research on female interviewees and says it was a "challenge as well as a privilege".
"I think it's fair to say we were not sure how our presentation would be received," she said.
"Most people think that there are plenty of women on the news, and it is only when you reveal the figures that they realise women are very under-represented.
"But the Lords very quickly became engaged and later in the process one committee member said 'This is one of the best reports we've done'."
It could be one of those reports which really do alter the landscape - for the good of the 51 per cent of people in Britain who are female.
Andrew Worthley, a Lecturer in the City Law School, became involved after an initial meeting between Professor Howell and clerks at the House of Lords revealed legal expertise was required.
Together, the academics gave their presentations in October 2014, using evidence from experts including City's Professor Suzanne Franks, who has written a book on women in broadcasting.
Professor Howell said: "It was great to collaborate with Andrew and work with someone from a very different discipline within City and also to know that the work I had done over four years was being used by the Upper House."
The Government is now obliged to reply to the Lords' concerns and the issue will return to be debated.
The Committee put forward a number of recommendations and has suggested that if the monitoring of data on women in the broadcast news has not improved within a year, with a view to improving the representation of women, then regulators should step in.
Following the report's publication, Professor Howell says she believes it has the potential to make a difference.
"It could be one of those reports which really do alter the landscape - for the good of the 51 per cent of people in Britain who are female," she said.