BBC Expert Women

Why does the media tend to call on more male experts than female? The BBC is hoping to encourage a better balance through its series of Expert Women training days, the latest of which I was excited to attend in Glasgow last week.

In a packed programme at the Pacific Quay studios, twenty-four of us exercised our interview, discussion and presentation muscles and gained vital feedback. Reminders and tips are available from the BBC Academy site. The idea is to boost skills and offer access – both for skilled women to media producers, and for media producers to experts who could provide the perfect voice for their next broadcast.

Knowledge certainly ran deep in my group of eight science experts. If you need a psychologist specialising in autism, call Sue Fletcher-Watson (see her iPad app here). Simone Meddle spends her summers in Alaska finding out how the birds there shake off stress. Zara Gladman set up Bright Club in Glasgow and knows all about invasive crayfish. Erinma Ochu persuaded us all to change the world through citizen science. Lydia Murray’s PhD is uncovering links between collagen mutations and killers like stroke. Kate Hawley loves trees (surely: Forest Watch?). And my personal favourite: malaria parasites. Joanne Heng wants to stop them and all they stand for, and she’s written a great blog about the whole day here.

Along with me, a science writer for museums and exhibitions, we all had a terrific time, and according to our patient advisers, can now appear in the media confident of expertise, voice and appearance (if it’s TV, however, do remember to check if you’re shiny).

Many, many thanks to all the BBC Academy team and to the directors, controllers, producers, presenters and reporters whose brains we were graciously allowed to pick. The day was really valuable.

Zara, Lydia, Simone, Rebecca, Sue, Kate, Erinma and Joanne celebrate the day