Speak Up: BBC Radio 4 documentary
Women may be caricatured as babbling chatterboxes, but in public, women speak a lot less. Be it in conferences or committee meetings, television or parliamentary debates, women do not get a proportionate amount of air space as men. Mary Ann takes us on a global journey to find out why women aren’t speaking up and if they are being disproportionally side-lined, excluded from the world’s debates.
She explores the role history and social conditioning plays: the ancient Babylonians thought if a woman spoke in public, she should have her teeth smashed with a burnt brick; in classrooms today boys get far more attention, teachers accepting their calling out of answers, while punishing girls for the same behaviour.
She hears that when women do speak, they are often spoken over regardless of their status. In the Australian High Court, women judges and even the female presiding judge were regularly interrupted by male advocates. And women aren’t heard in the same way as men; many struggle to see that a woman might be the expert in the room.