Women Experts in the Ghanaian News Media 

Nana Ama Agyemang Asante

The ongoing success of the  Expert Women project – monitoring of leading news programmes – has now had an impact beyond the UK. It is ten years since the start of City Expert Women which analyses the ratio of male and female experts invited to appear on mainstream broadcast news. And in 2021 the same methodology was introduced in Ghana. The Journalism Department at City was given some Global Challenges Research Funding to support this work and we made contact with journalist partners in Ghana –  Nana Ama Agyemang Asante a former Reuters Institute Fellow and journalist Betty Kankam-Boadu. They organised the monitoring of four prominent radio news programmes and two TV programmes over a five month period using the same methodology that City had pioneered.

One week each month a monitor was assigned to each of the six programmes and logged the appearance of female versus male experts on these shows each day of the week. They also noted how long each guest spoke for and other data about the programmes, such as the gender of the presenters. The results of this initial monitoring were extraordinary. The ratio of male to female experts who appeared on these mainstream news outlets was  almost eleven to one. So that less than ten per cent of the experts on Ghana’s news programmes were women. 

Betty Kankam-Boadu

The Ghana partners produced a report, disseminating the findings throughout the media to draw attention to the huge gap in female and male participation and received interesting feedback. Many broadcasters and commentators came up with similar responses to those we had encountered in the UK.

‘Women are reluctant to come forward and do not consider themselves appropriate interviewees…’ was the gist of many of the comments. Nana and Betty also set up a website to promote their findings and made an interesting video including the voices of some key women in Ghanaian public life. Both Nana and I wrote articles for an international audience about these findings highlighting the huge disparities. 

Launch of report on Status of Women in Ghanaian Media, with members of AWMA, academics from Ghana University and representatives for Civil Society Organisations
AWMA members
Members of AWMA with copies of the report

In 2023  we sought some further funding – this time from the Higher Education Innovation Fund to repeat the monitoring to see if the gender ratio had improved at all. On this occasion, due to a lower budget,  we were only able to monitor the radio shows (not the TV) over  a four month period. Once again the partners produced a report to outline and present the findings.

The good news was that although there was still a huge disparity in male and female experts the overall ratio had reduced and was closer now to 8:1 for the radio shows which showed that the highlighting that had occurred after the first monitoring might have had some effect. However we were keen to see if this trend would be maintained. 

We have since been awarded a British Academy  Small Grant to pursue this research further. We are using the funds to repeat the same format as the original project – four radio and two TV shows over 5 months. The monitoring started in February 2024 and we await these results later in 2024. 

Suzanne Franks