Steve Paikin, well-respected host of TVO’s The Agenda, wrote a blog post about his show’s struggles to find female panelists. He says his producers aim for gender parity but struggle to get women that they contact to say yes. Paikin lists several “excuses” these women give them for not wanting to come on to speak about issues the show is covering.
Paikin says no man would ever say no because they have to take care of their children; no man will ever say no because they have a problem with their appearance – like their roots showing; and no man will ever say no because he doesn’t know enough about the topic.
What I have to say about this: Steve Paikin, this post you wrote is condescending and after reading it I can only imagine you’ll have a harder time finding women to join your panels on The Agenda. They won’t just be worried about being judged by your audience, they’re going to be judged by you too.
Mr. Paikin, you need to recognize the expectations society places on women. We are judged poorly if we are seen to be less than dedicated to our families or too dedicated to our jobs. We are judged harshly on our appearances no matter what we do.
But what I really have a problem with is your third complaint:
No man will say, “Sorry can’t do your show tonight, I’m not an expert in that particular aspect of the story.” They’ll get up to speed on the issue and come on. Women beg off. And worse, they often recommend a male colleague in their place.
Guess what? I would rather that your guests be actual experts in what they’re discussing than people who just read up on an issue and formed an opinion that afternoon after your phone call. I guess women feel a responsibility not to be talking out of their ass when it comes to something they consider important.