Journalists and reporters attribute their reliance on men to provide expert commentary on different themes to a lack of knowledge on where to find women able to discuss these themes at a professional level. Yet, there is a significant number of women professionals able to offer expert opinion in their fields of expertise. In effect, an overwhelming 83% of experts and 86% of spokespersons in the news are men (Global Media Monitoring Project 2005 report). A fair and balanced representation of women and men in media necessitates a shift towards an equitable representation of women and men in media, among other changes. WACC partnered with Al-Balad Radio (formerly AmmanNet) in Jordan to compile an Arabic/English directory on Arab female specialists on all subjects. The online directory is a reference tool for journalists and reporters committed to producing gender-equitable news content. Populating the directory continues, the current version is available at www.ammannet.net/look/woman.
The directory was launched in July, 2008 and may be viewed at www.ammannet.net/look/woman. The directory is a resource for media practitioners willing to consult women for expert opinion on different issues, to correct the current bias towards ‘male as experts’, the paucity of women’s expert voices in the news as well as the under-representation of women as experts/professionals in media content. The resource directly challenges negative gender stereotyping and discrimination against women by making it possible for news practitioners to present a more balanced and fair view of the world. The directory it is searchable by country and its functionality will be improved by making it searchable by theme. Efforts to popularize the directory in media houses in the Middle East and North Africa region are underway to ensure the directory becomes an indispensable tool for gender-conscious media practitioners committed to producing gender-fair, gender-balanced media content. The website is live nevertheless it is a work in progress with continuous ongoing development.