I was at an event in Cork last week – the BAI public conversation – about all things broadcasting. Diversity in Irish broadcasting was the main topic of questions from the audience with regionalism, ethnicity and – the elephant in the corner – gender, all coming up.
The fact that it came up just a day after the NWCI report on Hearing Women’s Voices found that the independent radio sector has an abysmal record on featuring women on current affairs shows was probably part of this. Women on Air has been working on improving this for years now, and while RTE has pulled up its socks (with more work to do yet, as Glen Killane observed), independent radio has yet to really engage with it.
This all came in the same week as Waking the Feminists, the response of theatre makers – male and female – to Fiach MacConghail’s Waking the Nation programme of commemoration for the Abbey 2016, which contains just one play written by a woman, out of ten.
I’ve met Fiach once or twice and he has always struck me as exactly the sort of guy who would be very conscious of equality and representativeness. I’m pretty sure he’s a card-carrying feminist. So the fact that even he couldn’t see the problem here (at first) is deeply worrying.
When even people who describe themselves as feminists can’t consciously or unconsciously see their way to establishing equal voices for women, we are in trouble.
And the fact that we are having this conversation over, and over, and over – in politics, the media and now the arts (it comes up regularly in the publishing world, too) is exhausting. I am exhausted from it.
After studying the application of political gender quotas for nearly three years for my MSc, I know they are not a cure-all. But when we all have so much inbuilt acceptance of the way things are, they are a start. Because if even feminists can’t work to progress the cause of
I interviewed Julie Kelleher from the Everyman Palace about the conversation around Waking the Feminists. Listen back below.