BBC equality project reports significant increase in female representation

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50:50 Impact Report 2020 ()

Image: 50:50 Impact Report 2020


Originally conceived two years ago as an idea to track and improve gender equality on a single programme within the BBC newsroom, the 50:50 Project has grown to encompass a wide variety of output. Despite BBC content being streamlined in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the datasets that were submitted to the study showed promising results. These include:

– Of the content researched in March 2020, two thirds of output showed a gender balance of at least 50% female contributors.

– Of the teams that have been part of the initiative for at least two years, 78% reached 50% female representation in March 2020.

– Some 93% of those datasets reached above 45% female representation.

– Survey data from respondents who use BBC online services including BBC websites, iPlayer and BBC Sounds, showed that 39% of people had noticed a shift in gender balance over the last two years.

– Among 16 to 34 year-olds, 40% say they derived greater enjoyment from BBC content as a result of seeing and hearing from more women.

– 32% of women aged 25 to 34 say they now consume more BBC online content because of greater female representation.

– The company’s General News Service (GNS) has featured 50% women contributors every month for a year.


50:50 Impact Report 2020 chart ()

Chart: 50:50 Impact Report 2020


BBC Director General, Tony Hall, said: “The BBC’s role in national life has never mattered more. We have focused all of our efforts into keeping everybody informed, educated and entertained throughout the coronavirus emergency. Like so many organisations we’ve had to put many things on hold. But when it comes to the 50:50 Project, our teams have proved how agile, tenacious and imaginative they can be in continuing to drive for the very best, most inclusive range of experts, contributors and guests.”

“What started as a simple idea introduced on one programme in the BBC newsroom, has unleashed a surge of creativity and innovation across the BBC and in our partner organisations. Put simply, it’s making our work better. From BBC World Service to our local radio breakfast shows, and across our genres from news and science to entertainment and sport, this report is packed with evidence that 50:50 is working. Sometimes this isn’t easy, but BBC teams are showing it is possible.”

Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, added: “It’s been remarkable to see such change in just a year, with the proportion of female contributors appearing in our programmes radically increasing thanks to this brilliant initiative. It’s challenged each team and helped to transform the range of expert voices and opinions on air. Crucially, audiences tell us they’ve noticed a difference and it’s increased their enjoyment too. Telling stories for all audiences and reflecting the world we live in has improved the quality of our programmes by bringing fresh and engaging contributors.”

In addition to its own content output, the BBC 50:50 Project has now expanded to include a global network of partner organisations that are implementing the 50:50 methodology. The number of partners has tripled in the last year to include more than 60 organisations in 20 countries, with institutions such as the Financial Times, Fortune and RTE all signing up to the scheme.


50:50 Impact Report 2020 ()

50:50 Impact Report 2020


Seeking to inspire and support content makers across the board, the BBC 50:50 Project represents the institution’s biggest ever collective action to increase women’s representation across its content. Building on the success of 50:50, more than 30 teams across TV and radio have now also signed up to pilot 50:50 monitoring for disability and ethnicity. You can find out more about the BBC 5050 Project here and read the latest report in full here.


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