Rise in female TV anchors sparks sexism claims

Australians have both celebrated and questioned a recent increase in the number of female TV hosts on our screens.

On Wednesday, media commentator Mike Carlton tweeted about the growing number of women presenting current affairs and news programs on the national broadcaster, prompting heated replies.

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“Here’s a landmark. Next year, every major news and current affairs show on ABC-TV will be fronted by a woman. Good, huh?” Carlton wrote.

The former radio host was referring to programs like 7.30, Lateline, ABC News Breakfast and Four Corners, all of which are hosted by women.

Additionally, every 7pm news bulletin on the ABC around the country is also hosted by a woman either on weekdays or weekends.

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The tweet elicited a host of varied responses, with many lauding the ABC for its pioneering approach.

“I think we need the best and we are getting it. ABC is saturated in outstanding female journalists,” one commenter responded.

However, others raised the question of bias based on political correctness, not talent.

Film critic and journalist Lynden Barber tweeted: “So Tony Jones, Kerry etc weren’t chosen because of their talent? You raised the gender issue mate, think it through.”

“Seems a bit sexist. Maybe the ABC needs quotas to ensure sexual diversity. Some trans-presenters too should be considered,” one respondent added.

Another wrote: “There should be 50/50 quotas because that is equality. Feminists are so drunk on power they have no restraint.”

Some took issue with the notion that female hosts were news in the first place.

“It’s great. Bring on the day when it’s unremarkable,” one user responded.

“The ABC continuing to provide hard hitting objective news & current affairs is more important than the gender of presenter,” another added.

Gender inequality ‘rampant’

Regardless of your perspective, the phenomenon is a notable one in an employment climate where the glass ceiling still exists, according to recent research.

A report from the Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency released this week found gender inequality was still “rampant” in Australian workplaces and the pay gap remained high.

“Getting to the top is very difficult, particularly if you want to work part-time,” Workplace Gender Equality Agency director Libby Lyons said.

“I mean, there are very, very few women working part-time in very senior management roles.”

In the United States, much has been made of the lack of diversity on the popular late night talk shows that dominate ratings.

A photo spread from Vanity Fair revealed that every late night host was male – not a woman in sight.

Prejudice remains

“We’ll know if it’s a level playing field when people stop asking that question,” presenter Chris Bath told Fairfax when asked about sexism in the television industry following her exit from Channel Seven after 20 years on air.

Bath isn’t wrong – just this week, ABC’s European correspondent Lisa Millar was criticised on Twitter for wearing the same jacket across several broadcasts covering the terror attacks in Paris.

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As she pointed out, one of her male contemporaries – Karl Stefanovic – managed to escape from any outfit criticism despite wearing the same jacket throughout his time in Paris.

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Seven correspondent Hugh Whitfield and Nine reporter Tom Steinfort also weighed in, revealing they had repeated the same outfit several times while covering the Paris attacks.

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Additionally, as one tweeter pointed out in response to Carlton’s statement, some final frontiers remain to be conquered.

“It is good. The community needs to hear and see women presenting information in positions of authority. Sport is next hurdle,” Sarah Groube tweeted.


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