by Stacie Walsh

On Tuesday 4 November the third and final evidence session for the House of Lords’ “Inquiry into Women in news and current affairs broadcasting” was held at Westminster Palace. Evidence was given by Miriam O’Reilly, former BBC news presenter and producer best known for her work on Countryfile, Cathy Newman, Channel 4 News presenter, and Penny Marshall who, after a short stint at the BBC, will return to ITV news as social affairs editor. Each of the women discussed a range of topics affecting the unrepresentative numbers of women in news and broadcasting today.

O’Reilly focused on the discriminating push to leave broadcasting felt by women over the age of 50. Marshall identified the need for more data on the issue spanning why women leave (noting two major drops in numbers for women in their 30s and again around 50), where they are going, and why they are not returning to careers in broadcasting. Newman highlighted the need for a cultural shift allowing men and women more options for work-life balance as well as instilling confidence in girls to pursue careers in news.

Statements made by Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities and Mr. Ed Vaizey MP, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, indicated that the state sees a role in promoting change by bringing attention to the issue and fostering communication between relevant parties. At this time, no party supports hiring quotas or further legislative intervention citing the need for an internally driven change in industry culture.

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