Call for more women in network Board rooms

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Earlier this month Nine appointed its only female Board member, Holly Kramer, to its Board.

The appointment, following her executive experience at Ford Motor Company, Pacific Brands and Telstra, ended Nine’s male-only Board Room and comes at a time when there are calls in the industry for more gender balance at the top levels of television.

Earlier this month Seven News presenter Anne Sanders pointed to TV’s imbalance saying, “I hope that with that new talent will come more positions in authority, positions in power because I think it would balance things out a bit more.

“Half of the audience are female and it might represent the viewers a bit more, it might even it out a bit more.”

SBS has the most women on its board, with 4 out of 9 board members. ABC has 3 of 9 board members. Foxtel has 2 of 8 board members, TEN has 2 of 10, Seven and Nine both have 1 of 7.

Deanne Weir, Deputy Chair of Screen Australia, writing in AFTRS Lumina publication says studies have shown that companies with more women on boards and in senior management positions perform better financially.

“The percentage of women on boards of the five free to air networks and Foxtel is marginally better than the ASX 200 average: of the 51 board members, 12, or 24 per cent are women (March 2015),” she writes.

“According to the broadcaster websites, in free-to-air broadcasting the proportion of management teams that are women is slightly better, with around 30 per cent of management teams comprising of women. The numbers of women in management in Australia’s largest TV production companies is also around 30 per cent.”

But Weir says the lack of women in senior roles at the broadcasters also influences how women are represented on screen, especially in commercial news and sports broadcasting.

“As Lisa Wilkinson noted in her Andrew Olle Lecture in 2013, women presenting the news experience a scrutiny of their age and appearance that their male counterparts do not. Her on-air presenting partner, Karl Stefanovic, reinforced this in late 2014 by revealing that as an experiment he decided to wear the same suit for a week and see if anyone noticed. When no-one commented, he continued to wear the suit, and when a full year went by with no comment, he decided it was time to ‘out’ himself and his suit, and the ridiculous double standards that applied to him as opposed to female presenters,” she continues.

“According to the latest census, in 2011 women comprised 36 per cent of people employed in the film and video production sector and 29 per cent in the post-production sector. The proportion of women in both sectors combined was 35 per cent; in 1971 the proportion of women in film, video and PDV (post, digital and visual effects) was 36 per cent. In contrast, the proportion of women in the broadcasting industry increased from 28 per cent to 44 per cent over the same period.

“However, while there are an increasing number of women participating in management and production roles within television, they are on lower salaries and in less senior positions than their male counterparts.”

In Film the imbalance is even more stark, but Weir says we should all be speaking out for better and balanced representation.

“The under-representation of women in the screen sector should be of great concern to anyone who cares about the telling of Australian stories and the development of our culture. Without diversity in the creation, commissioning and production of projects, we risk telling only part of our story.”

-Excerpts from Lumina #14
Disclaimer: AFTRS advertises at TV Tonight.

11 Comments:

  1. Armchair Analyst

    Having more women in the TV Network board rooms is not a bad idea in general. However if its purely based on gender and equality for equalities sake then i don’t think so. We need people who actually can do the job well and have fresh ideas to keep FTA and traditional TV strong. If women don’t have those attributes or skills then they shouldn’t get the position just cause they are women. If a women is on the board of a major company then hopefully its because she is good at what she does and can offer value to the organization and make it better. If you start giving out token positions then the people who got their on merit will become disgruntled, it happens.

      • It’s all about equality of opportunity to step up, learn more and earn the promotion to the next level. If it was just down to actual merit women would occupy 50% of the roles. That is why in the public sector woman are advancing at a rate that far exceeds the private sector. The statistical discrepancy is evidence of the system working against women’s advancement into the highest echelons. Only men, who have all the odds stacked in their favour carry on about merit. Women see men promoted over an equally qualified or indeed more qualified woman every day.

  2. Generally speaking, I thought the person with the requisite skill and experience should get the job, and not based on gender, race or cultural background. I am not sure if it was a deliberate intention to exclude women but I may be really naive in making this comment. If everyone is going to open a can of worms, how about the lack of Indigenous Australians or ethnic group in the Board?

  3. Jobs for the boys … Not many senior female producers and Ep’s either … It’s an old school Anglo boys club… This is why TV is dying

    • Having women on the board isnt enough – they need some younger people on there. TV is dying because old people are making decisions on what people younger than them want to watch, in retaliation the younger generation is telling those older people where to go by doing things like subscribing to Netflix/Stan and watching more YouTube. No surprise the smart people at Netflix are young? Also a story broke yesterday of a 35-year old Australian businessman creating a streaming service for South East Asia. Young people know what young people want, not the other way around and gender isnt going to make a difference

    • Sorry, but you are wrong in saying there’s not many female Senior and Executive Producers. At Shine and Fremantle it’s wall to wall females at every level. If you think TV is dying because of this reason alone then you need to stop the male bashing and realise it’s dying through choice and availability, not whether the producers put the toilet seat up or down…

      • Agree with the above.

        Board representation is entirely different though. It seems strange that there are so many women in senior roles in Australian TV, yet the broads of the commercial FTA’s are largely all men.

    • jezza the first original one

      @ Reuben ..”anglo boys club” I find this term negative,sexist and racist.
      TV is not necessarily dying, it is evolving and shifting from broadcast to narrowcast, from scheduled to on demand. The market is and will continue to bring about change and this will reflect in the upper echelons of mgmt, the ones that do it swiftly may well thrive, others that shift slowly may not survive…….no real need for the name calling, so reminiscent of the 20thC soviet era

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