Françoise Davies (EBU)
When I was a young girl in school, I remember being taught about the need to push for what were termed “equal opportunities”. Today, a bit more than three decades later, equal opportunities are encapsulated within the broader area of diversity and inclusion. When you realize how much is still to be done, you can either find it depressing and stay in negative, non-action mode or you can push forward and play your part in making fair representation the norm rather than an exception.
In the EBU Technology & Innovation (T&I) Department, we recognize that championing diversity and inclusion is particularly challenging owing to the continued low representation of women in engineering and technology. To address this, our first step has been to acknowledge it (not always easy in itself), and the second has been to establish several action points to combat this under-representation.
STEM for girls
We know that you cannot fix gender inequality overnight. There is no quick fix. Indeed, if you think only in terms of an annual KPI you may as well stop. To increase the number of female engineers we must go back to grassroots and encourage young girls to contemplate STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects when making their choices for secondary school, and then have these same young women consider continuing with a career in the sciences. It’s about creating internships and links with universities. It’s about making women comfortable with raising their profile and, for example, taking that first step of speaking in public to a room of peers. It’s about mentoring, and having networks to share and exchange as well as to support and advise. All of this takes time.
Earlier this year the EBU joined 50:50 The Equality Project, a BBC initiative that has now also been picked up by at least 13 EBU Members along with a range of NGOs, universities and commercial companies. The 50:50 project aims to rebalance representation in the media in a quantifiable and methodological way.
A key aspect of the 50:50 challenge is collecting data to drive change without compromising on quality. To do this we are putting T&I’s flagship events – our annual technology seminars, summits and workshops, as well as the Technical Assembly – under the microscope. Our goal is to reach 25% female participation as speakers, panellists or moderators. It’s not 50:50 but it is a realistic goal. (Looking at our events in the past year, the average level for female participation was 17%.)
With this goal in mind, the whole T&I team is proactively working to have more women contributing to our events. We are also encouraging EBU Members to identify and encourage women on their technology teams to take that step to publicly raise their profile, alongside participation in our various working groups.
Our calendar of events for the next year has already kicked off with the Media Cybersecurity Seminar. When the last event on the 2021–2022 list takes place, the Network Technology Seminar next June, we will be able to report on how we’re doing with the challenge.
By working with colleagues – all colleagues – as well as our Members and partner organizations we aim to increase awareness and encourage women in media technology to be proud and visible. Leaving aside the documented business advantages of having a diverse and inclusive workforce, it is morally right, and we can only do this if we work together. Will it be easy? No. But that is why it’s a challenge.
If you are a woman working in the media as an engineer, developer or technologist of any kind, and are interested in contributing to one of our events, please get in touch. You can start with an email to Françoise Davies (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Diversity, Equality & Inclusion (DEI) at the EBU
The effort to improve the gender balance at T&I events is just one part of the EBU DEI Strategic Initiative. It seeks to inspire and support Members’ efforts to reflect the evolving societies they serve, in their content and workforce. The initiative encompasses a range of strategies including sharing knowledge and best practices, conducting research and analysis, and fostering DEI values through advocacy and promotion at EU and international levels.
For more information, contact the DEI Officer, Francesca Scott (email@example.com).