On one occasion BBC1’s 10 O’Clock News featured just one female face for a few seconds in the entire programme, according to the survey for the trade magazine Broadcast.
Lis Howell, director of broadcasting at London’s City University, said: “Never mind women experts – there weren’t any UK women at all.
“Our monitor noted that within this 27-minute programme, the only woman to feature appeared in an item about the Egyptian elections. How ironic is that?,” she said. “On a British news programme, the only woman who made it on air was an Egyptian in a gym – and a vox pop at that”.
She added: “Is it really likely that no women did anything of significance or had anything to say, in the whole UK, on that day? Even the most intransigent male elitist would have to admit that is bizarre.”
The BBC’s flagship bulletin fared worse than ITV1’s News at Ten, which had five times as many male experts as women.
Channel 4 News performed best, with one woman for every three men on screen; the ratio on BBC2’s Newsnight was 4:1.
Miriam O’Reilly, the former Countryfile presenter who won a landmark age discrimination case against the BBC, said: “The BBC is testosterone-fuelled television.
“I look at programmes whether it is the news or [BBC1 panel show] Mock the Week and I am constantly saying, where are the women? It’s not just older women, it’s women full stop.
“I don’t believe in a country bursting with dynamic women experts that the BBC can’t find any – Channel 4 certainly can. The BBC is a cautious and conservative organisation whose producers go for the tried and tested, and they tend to be male.
She said that there is an ingrained attitude at the BBC that a man will “deliver more than a woman”.
“It is a lazy, safe option which means the BBC is giving the false impression that there aren’t women in this country with something valuable to say,” she said.
Outgoing BBC director general Mark Thompson has admitted that the BBC has too few women in news and current affairs roles and it is an issue that will have to be addressed by his successor, George Entwistle.
The survey was carried out over the course of a week last month for Broadcast, which is running a campaign to put more female experts on screen.
Howell, a former executive at GMTV and Sky News, said: “Politics averaged about five minutes a night [on the BBC 10 O’Clock News]. But politics is about democracy (at least here, if not in Egypt), so why are 50%-plus of the UK population excluded from the coverage?
“Interestingly, the nightly bulletin’s only package with more women than men in the whole week was an item about poor Greek families. Stereotypes from the BBC? Perish the thought.”
Howell said Channel 4 News was “consistently good” on using female experts and “none the weaker for it”.
The BBC has previously come under fire for the lack of female voices on Radio 4’s Today, which only has one full-time female presenter, Sarah Montague.
Howell said the Treasury told a City University student that Chloe Smith, a junior minister, was not offered for media interviews because she was too junior. Smith later appeared on Newsnight where she was mauled by Jeremy Paxman.
Howell said: “It would be sad if, after one roughing up, she was never again put up for interview. If we are really committed to increasing the number of women experts on air, we have to go through a transition period when there may well be embarrassing moments.
“Now Ms Smith has been blooded, we need to see her in action again soon. With practice comes merit.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “As the Broadcast piece acknowledges, the short period they examined included programmes presented by Fiona Bruce and Sophie Raworth, with reports from Stephanie Flanders and Bridget Kendall. It was also affected by a large number of sports news stories in that period. We do take the issue seriously and are working to improve the gender balance, although the BBC cannot dictate who organisations choose to put forward for interview.”