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BBC's 50:50 project

A global project to get gender balance in the news

BBC’s 50:50 project, aiming to achieve gender balance in programs, has led to other companies using the same measurement. 41 companies took up the challenge and 50% of them say they have now reached gender balance, up from 31% when they joined the project.

The 50:50 Impact Report 2021 shows that also the organisations that did not reach gender balance showed improvements. 77% of content-makers featured more than 40% women contributors on their output, compared to 58% when they joined the project, reports Nina Goswami, BBC’s Creative Diversity Lead, for Digital Content Next.

The project was started at the BBC by news presenter Ros Atkins, four years ago. He wanted to increase female representation on his program ‘Outside Source’ by monitoring the contributors his team could control. Now, more than 100 organizations in 26 countries are using the data-driven core principles to improve the gender balance on the content they produce.


The BBC itself reports that for the third consecutive year, there has been an improvement in the number of teams reaching gender balance. 70% of content reached 50:50 compared to 36% in the first month of monitoring. No team monitoring the gender balance for three years or more featured less than 40% women contributors.

The project, that began as a grassroots initiative in the BBC’s London newsroom, now involves 670 BBC teams and more than 100 partner organisations in 26 countries – all working towards one goal: equal representation of women and men in content, according to the project’s annual report.


The report shows, for the first time, the BBC’s progress alongside the company’s 50:50 partner organisations. In March, teams were challenged to see how many could reach 50% women contributors. Within the BBC, the challenge included how many could consistently meet 50:50 from October 2020 to March 2021.

“In a year that saw the coronavirus pandemic have a devastating impact on lives and industries globally, the data suggested that achieving gender balance remained a priority for the global 50:50 network.”

“At the BBC, 70% of datasets featured 50% women contributors in March, compared to 36% when they first started. Forty percent also proved consistency.”


“Across the global 50:50 network, 41 organisations took part in the challenge. Half of the datasets submitted featured at least 50% women. All are committed to continue improving women’s representation in their output.”

“In October 2020, the BBC announced 50:50 monitoring was expanding to include representation of ethnicity and disability. This supports the BBC’s aim to reach 50% women, 20% black, Asian and minority ethnic, and 12% disabled representation on-screen, on-air and in lead roles across all genres.”

Over 220 teams across the BBC have now committed to using 50:50 monitoring to increase their representation of ethnic minority and disabled contributors.


A survey of more than 2,100 BBC online users found that 62% felt there were more women contributors on output. Meanwhile, 58% of women aged 16-34 said they consumed more services as a result of greater female representation. That’s a 12% increase on comparable data from last year.

There are now 670 teams committed to 50:50 in the BBC.

50:50 Project Lead Lara Joannides said: “This is an incredible achievement, especially considering the extra demands teams have faced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The results prove that ensuring fair representation of all audiences across our content remains a priority for 50:50 teams, no matter what.”

ABC News in Australia was one of the first partners to join the BBC in implementing 50:50. In March, the Australian broadcaster saw 75% of their participating teams reach 50:50, up from 29%, when they first joined the project.


In Europe, the Austrian public broadcaster ORF had 90 teams taking part in the March challenge. Overall, 52% of teams taking part featured at least 50% women.

ORF equal opportunities commissioner Katia Rössner said 55% of teams taking part for six months or more reached 50:50 by the end of March. That marks a 3% increase on the overall ORF performance.

She said: “This confirms the fact, that the longer the teams are part of the challenge, the more likely they reach a quota of 50% in their programs.”

A promising sign for the future is that 50:50 has a growing network of universities and journalism schools.







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