Where are all the women?

I’m just a girl, standing in front of a panel show, asking where all the god damn women are. Call me crazy but I was under the impression that the earth was made up of 50% women. Actually I just checked the UK Office for National Statistics and the population of the UK is around 51% female. Which makes me beg the question…where the fuck are all the fucking women on the fucktrumpeting panel shows. I know you still have the Christmas wind in your hair, but I have come down from a roast potato and port high to a very cold reality (read, I have binged too much TV over the break). All the comedy panel shows that I know and love? Yeah, no such thing as gender equality where they are concerned.

Y’all know I love a spreadsheet, so I spent an evening hopped up on port transferring the guest listings from my favourite panel shows from Wikipedia to Excel. I know there are websites (like this one) that have already calculated the gender split, but I am a strong independent women and let’s be honest I didn’t think to google that until I was half way through. Besides, I got to use two of my favourite formulas for this (VLOOKUP and COUNTIF if you were wondering).

Anyway, my rules were to look at all shows, excluding Christmas compilations, from 2015 to present season (even when the shows were yet to air). I marked every host, regular and guest as either male or female (I recognise how problematic this is, but given the data I had and how much port I had consumed I had to work with what I was given). I decided to review this over a couple of years to try and give all the shows a fair chance. Statistically speaking if we had true equality then there would be some shows of all men, some of all women and the rest being a mix – however over time this would result in a 50-50 split between male and female. I figured that the longer period of time I could give them, the more likely we would hit on a normalised ratio. The reason I didn’t go back further, well, to be honest given the Weinstein revelations I consider anything pre-2015 the dark ages where all the ‘isms’ ran rampant.

The shows that I looked at (and I am sure you can read a lot into my mind from the shows included on this list) were:

  • Taskmaster
  • 8 out of 10 cats
  • Mock the Week
  • QI
  • Would I lie to you
  • Have I got news for you

Side note: these are the shows I got hooked on in my university semester abroad, and continued to watch through weird YouTube uploads from NZ. In my head they showed the broad minded and witty comedy that the UK was so good at. SPOILER: hence why I am so disappointed in the results.

Which brings me nicely onto the results. I split this in two ways, the first was including everyone that appeared on screen aka including the team captains and hosts. I thought this was possibly the most relevant since a) hosts are people too and b) the shows could always, oh I don’t know, employ people of the female persuasion in positions of power?

It is also interesting because in 2017 two of the shows included took that big step of trusting females with the buzzer and the cue cards; QI gave Sandi Toksvig the job of host (replacing Steven Fry) and 8 out of 10 cats gave Aisling Bea the job of team captain. Yes, you read that right, before 2017 LAST FUCKING YEAR there were no female hosts or team captains in the list. There is a reason my spreadsheet has the file name ‘RAGE’.

Sorry I need to calm down, I’m going to stop for a pastel de nata break (NB: if you learn nothing else from this blog post, try warming up a pastel de nata and throwing some cinnamon on top, it’s a game changer).

Right, tart consumed let me tell you of the second group. Being generous I figured that some hosts and team captains might be on long term contracts, making the gender balance of permanent roles hard to change. To allow for this I did a second take at the numbers but this time only looking at the guest spots, because even if a show has a male host and two male captains they could still have great representation of genders in the guests right? Right? RIGHT? SPOILER: The trash-fire shows are still trash-fires even when you take out the males hosts and captains

To make this easy I have divided the results into three categories:

  1. Mmm ok, but still need to try harder
  2. You will, I am sure, try to explain this away in a press release but we all know what is really going on
  3. Get in the fucking bin you sexist trash-fire

Mmm ok, but still need to try harder

Total people on screen Total guests
8 out of 10 cats Male 82 59% Male 42 52%
Female 58 41% Female 39 48%


Total people on screen Total guests
QI Male 154 64% Male 90 63%
Female 86 36% Female 53 37%


You will, I am sure, try to explain this away in a press release but we all know what is really going on

Total people on screen Total guests
Would I lie to you Male 151 80% Male 70 65%
Female 38 20% Female 38 35%
Total people on screen Total guests
HIGNFY Male 222 78% Male 108 63%
Female 63 22% Female 63 37%


Get in the fucking bin you sexist trash-fire

Total people on screen Total guests
Taskmaster Male 28 80% Male 18 72%
Female 7 20% Female 7 28%


Total people on screen Total guests
Mock the week Male 195 84% Male 121 77%
Female 36 16% Female 36 23%

Pissed off yet? Worst in this unbelievable line up is Mock the Week with a resounding 84% male presence on the screen in the last two years, only improving fractionally to 77% when you take out the hosts and regulars. To put this in context, in the last two years Mock the Week has had 31 appearances of guys called Ed. 31 Eds and 36 females. Forgive me for thinking equality isn’t high on the agenda for those funny, funny guys.

What I hate more than anything is that what I looked at was one form of representation, male vs female. However if you were to do this same experiment with race or disabilities as factors then the results would be dire (and if you want to do this, I can send you my spreadsheet). The format for representation on panel shows seems to be one white girl and one black guy amongst the sea of white men. This leaves almost no space at all for women of colour, any disabilities or anything else that might veer slightly away from TV ‘norm’. We all deserve to see our faces represented on TV, and it makes for far more interesting content.

It is a bullshit excuse that ‘there are no funny women’ or ‘the list of comedians to pick from is majority men, it’s not our fault’ – if a show named after a fucking cat food advert can get close to 50-50 then so can a topical news show. And if you are really stuck for people then check out this thing called ‘social media’, the music industry has been discovering talent on there for years.

I’m both angry and disappointed in the results of this, and excel usually brings me such joy. I don’t think that equal representation is too much to ask, particularly given the current political climate. I really don’t care how complicated the producers (side note, I would love to do this again but with the producers and writers who make the shows, my guess is they follow similar gender splits) say it is. DO BETTER.

Author: runawaykiwi

4 thoughts on “Where are all the women?

  1. Calm down dear.

    I just wanted to get in and say that before some man did!

    RAGE. The BBC’s token woman rule is not enough. Also I need to remember those formulae.

  2. The one show that’s really given me joy on this front is Frankie Boyle’s New World Order. His panels are *always* made up of women and minorities which makes me happy.

  3. First of all I LOVE your writing style – esp. the way you’ve left in nuggets of humour so we can enjoy a chuckle between rage breaks – and secondly YES I’M SO GLAD YOU WROTE THIS BECAUSE THE SITUATION IS BOLLOCKS. I love panel shows but…………. I love female comedians and I want to see them on TV. Now I’m going to list some of my fave female funnies: Susan Calman, Josie Long, Shappi Khorsandi, Gina Yashere, Francesca Martinez, Victoria Coren-Mitchell (not a comedian but she’s brilliant on panel shows). And there are so many more out there I don’t know yet. GET THEM ON THE PANEL SHOWS MATE!

    Good post.

    Lilly xoxo

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