I have a bee in my bonnet.
Over the course of the first eight Late Late Shows this season, 51 men have guested compared with 17 women. Just so you know, The Late Late Show is Ireland’s premier primetime talk show – a bit of a national institution. I first learned of the growing furore on Twitter via commentator Barbara Scully, who was highlighting the fact that the show on a particular night didn’t have one single female guest. In a subsequent show just one female guest featured as part of a panel discussion. No, I can’t think of a fitting sentence to follow that. Full stop.
I don’t usually watch The Late Late. My husband has banned it (very politely you understand – he’s just morally opposed to it) and we only have one television. But I do like to tune in now and again as it’s always been a bit of a barometer of ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ in Ireland. (Plus I’m a big fan of Ryan Tubridy. Yes, really!). Socially, culturally – The Late Late Show has always covered the topics, had the guests, picked up the debate. And that’s what makes it all so disappointing. Come on Late Late Show – you’ve been there to mark and share in Ireland’s biggest and most important happenings! So why is 50% of the population (give or take) not being properly represented right now? Where is our voice, our input, our visibility on Ireland’s biggest TV talk show?
Up until recently the idea of a Gender Quota had made me quite uncomfortable. I absolutely believe that women should be recognised and rewarded based on their merits, experiences and achievements and I don’t think anyone will argue with me on that point. But I’m beginning to think that we may need a bit of a jump-start here. It seems to me that in terms of the global conversation, us girls are still being left out. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it would appear that sometimes you can have all the qualifications but none of the breaks; you can have lots to say but none of the chat show invites; you can have all the will but none of the way.
I certainly grew up in a more egalitarian world than my mother and her mother before, but lets face it, women still don’t get the chunk of the global chatter they should have. It’s still broadly accepted that women are great to talk about female-friendly topics to broadly female audiences / Men talk to the world. Women can’t really be funny / Men are hilarious! What women have to say isn’t of interest / Men are extremely interesting.
This is important. Women need to be seen and heard – and I’m not talking token, I’m talking balance. A gender quota might just make it that little more normal to see and hear women operating across all levels of society. And a sense of normality is important – today it is no longer considered normal to smoke in a restaurant. Imagine that! Controversial at the time, but now it just makes sense.
Sometimes things need a nudge in the right direction and a gender quota across a range of corporate jobs, in politics, teaching (we need more men teaching our children!), engineering, broadcasting – you name it – could be very positive. A gender quota would help excellent, highly-qualified, experienced women break into the (let’s face it) boy’s club which is the Irish Board Room. It would ensure that bright, hard-working, ambitious young women actually get the promotion they deserve. And it might just bring about an increase in the visibility of women – because right now they are not visible. Certainly not on Friday night TV. Seeing women on a TV chat show should be normal – or at worst, their absence should appear abnormal.
Something to think about Late Late Show? Women are great talkers, they’re often easy on the eye and – if they might be so bold – they can sometimes even crack a joke, that people actually might laugh at.
Now, while I’m at it, any chance of a couple of tickets for the Toy Show?