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
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