How is it that the old boys network predominates on Sunday morning talk shows while just last week, the media mused about the "year of the woman" as conservative women prevailed at the polls?
"Women are still scarce on Sunday morning news shows," wrote Erika Lovely for Politico, who cites soon-to-be-published research from American University's Women & Politics Institute that found just under 14% of lawmaker guests on Sunday morning talk shows have been women. However, unlike NPR's earlier piece this year called "Where Are the Women?" the Sunday show producers appear to have no intention of remedying the disparity. In fact, their reactionary responses remained defensive as they justified structural sexism.
It's high time for Sunday morning news shows to take responsibility for their "men-in-suits mind-set" rather than blaming women who have been underrepresented and disregarded for decades. Still, producers continue to reject accountability for the lack of diversity, resorting to a laundry list of meaningless justifications, including our underrepresentation in Congress, time zone issues, and even diva-baiting Speaker Pelosi.
It's disappointing to hear those sentiments echoed by Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz. It is contradictory for him to say "I'm not in the business of inviting female politicians on the air" but then support "a bigger pool of female columnists, bloggers and talk show hosts." Perhaps Howard Kurtz did not mean to privilege female columnists while disenfranchising female politicians -- but the impact may override the intent.
Enough with the excuses. The mindset that "there are no good women" is too common and too casually accepted. While we celebrate when a woman triumphs over sexism, last week's primaries did not signal equal representation for women in Congress, any more than today's piece in Politico represents a tide turning on Sunday morning. These stats are not new.
While it's a positive step forward that media outlets recognize the gender disparity on Sunday morning, there are qualified women available, and producers need to book them. The Women's Media Center represents hundreds of experts available on every issue from beltway politics to foreign policy to financial reform. The solution is clear.
There will always be those who make excuses and point to the one woman on the four person panel as progress. View the Women's Media Center award-winning video highlighting the gender disparity still widely prevalent in media: