An Actress's Thoughts

It’s a Men’s Radio World?

It’s a Men’s Radio World? (for public Deutschlandradio Kultur)

Twice already I have written about a German live radio show on Deutschlandradio Kultur that is broadcast every saturday between 9 and 11, called IM GESPRÄCH (Conversations). I investigated the topics and the shares of women and men among the guests. The show has a topic, a host and one or two experts as guests. Also the audience can participate in the discussion by phone or email. (Listen to the Radio and Review 2013: Talk on the Radio).

Today I am evaluationg the shows of the first six months of 2014 and comparing them with the two half-years of 2013. The results show that the share of women among the experts invited to the programme has continued declining. The family that listens to this publically financed programme over their satuday morning’s breakfast are presented with a world of male experts, with hardly any female experts, no matter what the topic.

1st half 2013: ratio 1 : 1,6
2nd half 2013: ratio 1 : 3
1st half 2014: ratio 1 : 4,5 (8 women, 36 men).


Here are the 17 (out of 26) shows of the first half of 2014 without female experts. The shows that only had one guest are marked by a *, the others had two guests (I prefer programmes with two guests, that way you get different opinions or approaches to a topic, but that is not the question right now of course):

  • * Physics – in the lecture hall with 007 and Star Trek
  • * Use and harm of vitamine supplements
  • Escort for the final path – euthanasia
  • Films you should have seen
  • Losing the ground beneath the feet – fear of social descent
  • Gentle tourism – an illusion?
  • How has reproductive medicine changed our view on having babies?
  • * The pollen are out again – allergies
  • * Is Germany botching the energy transition?
  • * Heat, sand and ice – deserts
  • * At eye level with the doctor – how to find the right treatment
  • * Germany’s birds
  • * The art of composure – how to deal with stress
  • Experts say: everybody can play music
  • Who are the winners and who are the losers of TTIP?
  • How can cyclist, motorists and pedestrians get along in a fair manner?
  • How much justice can be found in the new pension deal?

— In the German version of this text I wrote a little about the phrasing of the titles, of which quite a few are men-focussed and suggest some more neutral phrasings, but this is not something that translates into English. —

After the bad results of last year’s survey into this show – a third female and two thirds male guests I spoke with Susanne Schröder of the Department Current Culture / Radiofeuilleton at Deutschlandradio Kultur. She said that they were aware of this lack of female experts but that is was very difficult to find women that were prepared to participate in a two hour live radio show with audience involvement on a Saturday morning. Why is this so? Do working mothers want to give their families undivided attention on a week-end? Do working wives need the week-end to clean the house? Are women have less confident and will say yes to a lecture but no to a live discussion?

I don’t know. But in the face of the really low share of women among the guests so far in 2014 I don’t believe this can only be due to the reasons given by Frau Schröder, rather I should think that maybe the way that they are looking for experts for the show could and should be improved. I started a small incidental test in finding female experts for some of the all-male topics from 2014. I only used a simple search engine to find people or called ,matching’ institutions directly. Also I used the new German database which assembles women experts for conferences etc.

— in the German version I then listed a number of female experts for various topics from shows in 2014 that would be available for this radio format. —


We have not reached sex equality in our society yet, but that is no reason not to talk with or about women. On the contrary! The end of males-only guest lists for discussions would not be superficial cosmetics, but they would lead to a gain in content for the programme. Talking about films without ignoring films by female drectors, talking about social decline and mention the great threat especially for women to be struck by povery in old age, talking about reproductive medicine and address the pressure on young women from certain population groups to have children, talking about terminal care and discuss the fact that this is a woman’s job in our society, develop ideas for more attractive physics education with a man AND a woman to prevent phyiscs from being presented as a male domain to the next generation as well, and and and.

I wasn’t under the impression that it is extremely difficult or even impossible to find female experts that are interested in and interesting for the radio show, and I hope that we will sea a much higher share of women among the guests in the second half of the year. How about 60 % ?

Incidentally, five of the six shows in the 2nd half of 2014 so far were men only.