Can’t Find Female Sources? Grow Your Own.

Women are outnumbered in news stories, especially when the topics are business, technology, politics and sports.  From NPR to journalism associations, this problem is periodically documented – and lamented – in the U.S.

Now British women are having a consciousness-raising moment. The British Broadcasting Corporation is so frustrated with the chronic under-representation of female voices in its stories that it is sponsoring workshops to cultivate female sources.

Companies, nonprofits and universities should take a clue from the BBC’s effort and inventory their subject matter experts to detect women who are well positioned for spokesperson responsibilities.  Women are a secret weapon for winning media mentions. Editors and news directors want stories to have gender (and ethnically) diverse voices representing many points of view.

That translates to a clear advantage for female sources. Women who have subject matter authority and are confident and prepared to navigate on-the-record interviews have a better chance of being interviewed, and a better chance of being included in a story.  Communication leaders can accelerate their messaging goals simply by adopting the BBC’s approach and grow their own female talent.