50:50 Project

The 50:50 Project is the biggest collective action on increasing women’s representation in BBC content that there’s ever been.

The impact

The Project aims to inspire and assist other media organisations to equally represent women and men in their content.

More than 500 teams including several thousand journalists and programme-makers at the BBC are involved across TV, radio and digital and from news, sport, factual, children’s, science and music. It all started in the heart of the BBC Newsroom.

Project results

This report details the progress of the BBC’s 50:50 Project, which strives to improve the number of women contributors in our journalism and media content. This grass-roots initiative is the biggest ever collective action to increase female representation in BBC content

50:50 Project update - May 2019

How it works

We collect data to effect change. Data is the engine of this Project. 50:50’s purpose is to increase women’s profile in our content in order to better serve and represent our audiences.

Teams self-monitor their content and use the data to set benchmarks and monitor performance against them. They measure what they can control. In News, for instance, we would not count those who we cannot tell a story without. So if a Prime Minister is making a statement they would not count but an expert commentator would.  Everyone who does count, counts as one.

The data is gathered at the time of production so it can form part of team’s regular editorial conversations. The data is gathered daily but we work to monthly totals to allow for the ebb and flow of stories and guests. On a monthly basis every team taking part in the 50:50 Project shares their data across the organisation which encourages accountability and a positive spirit of competition.

No compromise on quality. The best guest, artist, or contributor appears in our content, regardless of gender. This is about increasing our pool of excellent female experts and finding more women to contribute to BBC programming.

About the 50:50 Project

The Project started with one programme - Outside Source, which is simulcast on two television outlets, BBC News Channel and BBC World News.

Outside Source decided to trial the self-monitoring system the Project continues to use today. In four months, the programme went from under 40% women contributors to over 50%. Since then the team have been consistently on target - more than 18 months in a row.

From that trial the Project grew organically throughout the BBC. Now, 50:50 helps BBC content feature a wider range of voices.

We’re seeing remarkable results at no cost; 50:50 has tapped into a desire among BBC staff to find a new and more effective approach to gender balance in our programmes - an issue where we accept we need to do better.

Programmes taking part include The One Show, BBC News at Six and Ten, The Andrew Marr Show and File on 4.

Contact the 50:50 Project

  • Ros Atkins, Project Director
  • Lara Joannides, Project Lead
  • Angela Henshall, External Partnerships

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