We actively research issues facing women in audio.

SoundWomen have commissioned reports that we think our members will find useful as they navigate the radio industry.

Sound Women on Air – 2013

Only 1 in 5 solo voices is female

In the first study of its kind, Sound Women working with Creative Skillset, has undertaken a snapshot study of female presenters on-air. Taken over the week beginning 18 March 2013, Sound Women enlisted the help of the universities of Sunderland, Westminster and Birmingham City – all of which have radio courses accredited by the Creative Skillset Tick quality mark.

1 in 5 solo voices on the radio is female
That figure is 1 in 8 during peak-time breakfast and drive hours
In co-hosted show, you are nearly 10 times as likely to hear 2+ male presenters as you are to hear 2+ female presenters
Solo women are more likely to be on air at weekends than during the week.

Networking and development group Sound Women has helped to raise the profile and confidence of many women working in radio and audio since its inception in 2011 with a mentoring scheme in conjunction with the BBC Academy, an Inspiration Festival, networking and digital events and recognises how important role models are for new and emerging talent on-air.

Founder of Sound Women Maria Williams said, “Having women’s voices on-air is hugely important, both to female radio audiences and to aspiring female presenters. We hear anecdotal evidence that radio stations receive fewer demos from female presenters. By drawing attention to these statistics we hope that more women will come forward, and that the industry will look for opportunities to showcase their talent. Both will give female audiences a much stronger voice.”

Press release | Download the Report

Sound Women looked at 30 stations in total which broadcast across the UK, including all the main national networks/stations . This research counted presenter and co-presenter airtime hours only – not reporters, newsreaders, or contributors to programmes.

Further comprehensive, funded research could investigate representation at a deeper level, but this snapshot gives us a clear indication of where there is potentially room for female talent to grow.

In addition to this research, Sound Women contacted twenty of the country’s most successful broadcasters across a range of commercial and BBC stations and asked them who they would most like to double head with, if they were ever asked – which none of them ever had been.

The potential co-presenter choices of these talented female broadcasters are:

Jo Whiley – Claudia Winkleman
Clare Balding – Bettany Hughes
Victoria Derbyshire – Gemma Cairney
Kate Lawler – Julia Davis
Margherita Taylor – Jenni Falconer
Sandi Toksvig – Fi Glover
Anita Anand – Victoria Coren
Jane Garvey – Sue MacGregor
Annie Nightingale – Fi Glover
Liz Kershaw – Nadine Dorries
Angie Greaves – Oprah Winfrey or Dawn French
Sam Walker – Rachel Burden or Anna Foster
Sarah Montague – Jane Garvey, Stephanie Flanders or Sian Williams
Fi Glover – Kirsty Young
Jo Good – Lauren Laverne

How the hours break down
Solo presenter hours total:
Men 80%
Women 20%

Shared presenter hours total:
Men & women 57%
Men &men 39%
Women &women 4%

Solo Weekdays:
Men 81.6%
Women 18.4%

Solo Weekends:
Men 76.7%
Women 23.3%

Shared Weekdays:
Men &women 62%
Men &men 32.7%
Women &women 5.2%

Shared Weekends:
Men &women 35.7%
Men &men 62.9%
Women &women 1.4%

Breakfast and Drive slots:
Solo women represent only 12% of total drive time hours and 13% of total breakfast hours
Of shared hours 89% are men and women for drive
Of shared hours 66% are men and women for breakfast

We found no examples of two women presenting together for either.

Press release | Download the Report

Tuning Out – 2011

Creative Skillset have produced Tuning Out – a report on women working in the UK radio industry, especially for Sound Women.

Download the Report

It shows just how far we have to go:

While women working in radio are better qualified than men (73% of women have degrees, compared to 60% men), they’ll be paid less – earning on average £2,200 less each year.
They are also less likely to make it to the top. Women make up just 34% of senior managers and only 17% at Board level. This is much lower than in television, where 29% of board members are women.
Older women are less well represented too – 9% of women in radio are 50+, compared to 19% of men.
And 16% of women in radio have dependent children, compared to 25% of men, suggesting that many women leave when they have children.

Over 24 million women (aged 15 years +) listen to any radio each week. That’s 91% of all women, and they make up 51% of all radio listeners. We think they deserve a better deal.

Our research team is currently working on plans to complete a comprehensive survey of on air women presenters. We know the gender gap can be startling, and want to see where women are making an impact on air, and where they face barriers.

We’re also looking at why women over 35 are leaving the industry – we know it’s not just about having children. Is it a lack of money or support? And which jobs are they leaving?