Pilot to help women experts get on air

Alice Roberts on Prehistoric Autopsy The BBC wants more specialist women presenters, like anatomist Alice Roberts who presented BBC Two's Prehistoric Autopsy and is now filming its Ice Age

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A training day for women who want to become specialist presenters will take place in January.

Hosted by the BBC Academy and Broadcast Magazine, the pilot event is designed to get more female experts on television and radio in fields like science, politics, business and technology where they are under-represented.

The day will include masterclasses from some of the industry's most successful women, advice on getting an agent or pitching themselves, training on bringing their subjects alive for a broad audience and hands on opportunities in the studio and in front of a camera.

More than 2000 women applied for just 30 spaces. Priority will be given to those who are 'preeminent in their chosen fields', with the final selection made on the basis of filmed applications uploaded to YouTube.

Start Quote

We hope that these 30 women will come away feeling really inspired and confident about their future in the industry”

End Quote Sarah Wood Executive Producer, BBC Academy

'We hope that these 30 women will come away feeling really inspired and confident about their future in the industry,' says Sarah Wood, executive producer for the Academy. 'This is a great opportunity for us to share our training, and maybe the day will produce one or more star female presenters.'

Gender gap

The pilot comes in the wake of criticism of the BBC for featuring fewer female experts than male, particularly in news and current affairs output.

This was highlighted most recently during a Today programme discussion on breast cancer treatment when presenter John Humphrys asked a male contributor to imagine he was a woman, since no female experts were available.

It prompted one journalist, Caroline Criado-Perez, to set up a website where women with expertise in particular fields could register their details for future media engagements.

Criado-Perez says that three quarters of the media's 'experts' are men and she believes the BBC 'doesn't try hard enough' to identify female contributors for its programmes. She claims it took her just a few minutes, for instance, to find a number of women breast cancer specialists via Twitter.

The BBC Trust also reported recently that, despite some progress, more work was needed to boost the number of female scientists on air.

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