UPDATE: PLEASE SEE THIS POST.
It happened again.
Last night I was on Scotland Tonight as part of a panel discussion and everyone involved in the conversation was male.
Men make up a minority of the Scottish population, but a majority of the talking heads we see on TV. And too often that majority is 100%.
Friends of mine rightly challenged this, and while I explained that I didn't know who was going to be on the panel beforehand, that doesn't help solve this problem. There are things that can.
At the 2013 Lib Dem conference, Mark Pack and Mark Thompson cooked up an idea for a simple pledge for their party colleagues. At 2013 Labour conference, Kirstin Hay called for a boycott of all-male fringe events. And earlier this year, Caron Lindsay called for Scottish political commentators to refuse to participate in all-male TV panels. Some folk, including Gerry Hassan, did so.
I think this can help, but it isn't the whole picture. We need a strategy that includes signing folk up to a pledge, but goes further.
- Parties need to encourage and support women to participate, and if possible help to maintain lists of women participants so that those who are refusing a request are able to suggest an alternative.
- Broadcasters need to find a way to balance their absolute right to choose their preferred person for the job with the undeniable fact that unless they do improve women's representation they are failing a majority of their audience.
"I will refuse to participate in all-male TV panels but only if 20 other Scottish political pundits will do the same."