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28 Comments

culture

Duly Quoted: Steve Paikin, on the Upside of His Controversial Blog Post

Women are apparently now saying "yes" to appearing on his show, even if they kind of want to say "no."

“Happy to say, my inelegantly worded blogpost has had a fantastic upside to it. More women are saying yes, and that was my point. We know lots of names of potential female guests. Getting them to say ‘yes’ has been the problem. For example, Frances Lankin, the former NDP cabinet minister, told us, ‘I want to say no to you, but I’ll feel guilty given what you guys are trying to do.’ So she said yes and of course did a superb job.”

-TVO host Steve Paikin, commenting during a Reddit AMA about a now notorious blog post from March in which he explained how difficult it was to book female guests.

“…If we’re doing a debate on economics,” he wrote then, “90% of economists are men. So already you’re fishing in a lake where the odds are stacked against you. And unfortunately, it’s the same for foreign affairs, politicians, the sciences, labour issues, and the list goes on. The vast majority of ‘experts’ in the subjects we cover are men.”

The male talent lake wasn’t the only issue he pinpointed—in his blog post, Paikin also identified “something in women’s DNA that makes them harder to book.” No matter—it appears he has now discovered a force stronger and more determinative than both talent lakes and women’s DNA: guilt.

And even if guilt and/or proving Steve Paikin wrong are not inducement enough for women experts, a team of specialists is on the case: “We’re having discussions as well with a team from Ryerson University on whether there are other things we can do to increase the number of women guests,” Paikin says. “It’s our top priority and we’ll stay with it.”

CORRECTION: May 13, 2014, 2:05 PM Due to an editorial error, we originally highlighted an excerpt different from the one we had intended to.

Comments

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    So accurately representing the audience means completely misrepresenting the industry (or whatever) you’re pulling guests from. So does that encourage more women (in the example of economists) to get into that line of work, or does it mislead the audience into thinking it’s already an equal playing field?

  • estta

    Ugh, Steve Paikin. I used to be such a fan, but he’s really been awful lately. He has a picture of himself as this amazing, progressive guy. But whenever someone who isn’t white/male calls him on something, he gets huffy and starts building strawmen.

    • dsmithhfx

      I think Steve needs to STFU, and TVO find an intelligent spokesperson.

    • mlr81

      How nice to see so many … energetic voices here, all helping the forces of ‘progress’ maintain, um … liturgical (that’s the right word, innit?) purity!

      • estta

        Did you read his original blog post? Or follow him on Twitter?

        • mlr81

          I did.

          What I find immensely more interesting is how, while you’re all basking in unctuous self-righteousness, the head of a major investment bank, or major media conglomerate, is never “caught” (?) saying the same thing? Perhaps they are more progressive in their views of women? *stifling laughter* Or perhaps power will not allow it. Maybe power won’t even allow you to think about it.

          Perhaps this outrage is a newly evolved public desire to fight misogyny (hmm, comforting …), but perhaps it is projection; frantic activity as a defense against change. “I’m not a misogynist because THAT’S a misogynist!!”

          Feel better now?

          • estta

            Not really, I’m not totally understanding why you think we can’t be critical of the heads of major investment banks, major media conglomerates, and Paikin.

            I’m not basking in self-righteousness, I’m expressing disappointment that someone I’ve admired in the past has chosen to make some poor choices in the present.

          • mlr81

            “…I’m not totally understanding why you think we can’t be critical of the heads of major investment banks, major media conglomerates, and Paikin.”

            Oh, how careless of me: I must try and look harder for all THOSE threads/articles/blogs that take those with real power to task over their misogyny. I’m sure if I looked harder, I could find articles that wonder who benefits when women are told to “lean in” and take shitty jobs writing system-reinforcing copy, or in retail where they sell luxury crap they can’t actually afford to buy, and I guess those articles might look something like this:

            http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2013/01/no_self-respecting_woman_would.html

            or this: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2013/03/dont_hate_her_because_shes_suc.html

            or this: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2014/05/cyberbll.html

            … but they all reveal that – darnitall! – at the root of all these systemic problems is our own, ugly narcissism that WANTS all this ugliness. BOO! Can’t we have a writer who calls out corporate greed AND makes me feel like the specialist snowflake that ever snowflaked? Where is the justice!?

          • estta

            Any reason those ‘articles’ are just from the one blog?

            And yes, if you can’t find any threads/articles/blogs calling out issues other than those with Paikin, you really should be looking harder.

          • mlr81

            You are what you DO.

            By expressing disappointment in Steve Paikin, what you DO is this: you teach your daughter that she should value the trappings of power over real power. “But if she isn’t interviewed on public television, how will people know she’s smart/worthy/made it!?” Sigh.

            Result? She pursues a promotion and is told by a superior who has no stake in whether or not she makes an extra $5k/year that they really “need to see more of a commitment from” her, so could she please make that 9-5 more like 8-6? All for the marginally more well paid position of Vice Regional Manager in Charge of Situations and Happenstances, which carries about as much real power as the title suggests. “But they have Lean Ins!” Oh.

            Or she hands of $40,000-$80,000 of her pre-tax money to get a Uni degree or three in anthropology so she can work as an “adjunct” professor, where “adjunct” means “exploitatively poorly paid a NOT-living-wage.” “But hey, mom and dad, I get to put PhD after my name, so now everyone knows I’m smart!” Don’t worry, I’m sure that will fill the gap in her soul, and food banks will fill the other gap.

            Either case, the Matrix wins: your daughter is a “productive” member of society. And of course, by “productive” I mean “consuming.”

            If you lose sleep over the fact that your actions were the proximate cause of your daughter’s battery-hood in the Matrix, don’t worry, there’s a pill for that. Xanax.

            Yes, it’s Blue.

          • Notcleverguy

            Your attempt at trying to prove you’re smarter than everyone and far more versed in the issue, all while criticizing everyone else’ opinion and apparent parenting skills when it comes to daughters, in a hugely patronizing tone, is at best bizarre.
            Seriously though, be careful, a fall from a horse that high can be painful.

          • OgtheDim

            Meh……

            Although I do find it interesting that those who whine about the general narcissism of society tend to come across as both overly educated.and snooty. Thanks for the reminder.

            HInt – showing mild contempt and indicating you are smarter then others only wins arguments in your own head. Nobody else really gives a crap.

            Humility FTW

          • mlr81

            Oh, you misunderstand my motive: I’m trying to convince ME.

            This narcissism stuff is hard enough to understand; harder still to live.

            The other day, I told my team that it was my own introverted laziness that allowed us to drag our feet on a project for a week, and that by saying as much, I was giving them all a stick to beat me up with to make sure I really change. Not just “learn something about myself,” no, no, actually change. No hiding now! Now, everyday I have to make the choice to DO something about my own proclivity to laziness.

            I might be faking it here, but that IS how you learn a new language. Choose an actor you like who speaks the language, and try to sound like them. Copy their accent. Make it OK to be “not you.” It gives you some distance, and then you don’t need to fake it after a while. It IS you. The new you. And society benefits from the fact that you hate the you you used to be.

            Now, if we could try that with the messages we send our daughters …

          • dsmithhfx

            “This narcissism stuff is hard enough to understand; harder still to live.”

            You seem to have a talent for it…

          • torontothegreat
          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Google “Donald Sterling”.

          • mlr81

            He had money, not power.

            And he was there so we could all say, “I’m not a racist, because THAT’S a racist.”

            Frantic activity as a defense against real change.

            And while you’re all telling your daughters about how disappointed you are in some minor media figure’s ‘failure,’ and reading Jezebel articles, this woman made 729 videos:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVMDEPc2YQw&feature=youtu.be

            Which one are you going to show your daughter: this or “Lean In?”

          • Squintz

            No Sterling has power as well, but he overplayed his hand. Attacking a rich black man with power (Magic Johnson) was his undoing not his latent racism and the discrimination and treatment of numerous black and latino tenants (and non-tenants in his case). The NBA never cared until he started lashing out at the black man the NBA administration hold up as one of their own.

          • torontothegreat

            “The NBA never cared until he started lashing out at the black man the NBA administration hold up as one of their own.”

            The NBA never cared until his dirty laundry was aired, which gave them no choice but to care.

          • Squintz

            That’s straight BS though. They shouldn’t have a choice when he faced multiple civil rights violations and federal racial discrimination suits. The fact that they (Stern mostly, but Silver was there too) only cared when his “dirty laundry” was aired is ridiculous.
            It is also interesting that you eliminate the context of said dirty laundry and who it was aimed at. The NBA doesn’t care when it’s poor blacks and latinos being victimized by Sterling, but talk smack about Magic Johnson and they throw the book at him immediatly?

  • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

    Steve Paikin is stumbling blindly around a valid point, but he seems unlikely to find it and is tripping over everything else in the process.

    I studied engineering at UofT. In my year, the class was 22–25% female (IIRC, the percentage enrolment of women in engineering peaked a little higher in the 2000s and has since declined, something about which Professional Engineers Ontario is appropriately distressed). If you’re looking to pick a qualified engineering grad from my year to interview, and women and men are equally qualified—I know they are, having studied with them—then choosing at random you’d get a woman about 25% of the time.

    In earlier generations, we know, female enrolment was even lower (at some point, it was zero). It’s those generations who now form the ranks of senior faculty who might be consulted as engineering experts by a TV program. (I know there was probably, and perhaps is still, systemic bias against women each stage from undergraduate to senior faculty, so the fraction of women in that group may be lower than the fraction when they entered the profession. But I am not familiar with the numbers.)

    Media have to balance multiple objectives: one is to choose appropriate experts to give the public informed views on particular technical topics, some of which are extremely narrow (this is inherent in the concept of expertise). This means choosing from the available experts, who are indisputably, in some (not all) of those tiny niches, more male (although Paikin is wrong to paint with a broad brush, or to make up numbers like “90%”). Another objective might be to show, for instance, women engineers, which would, in the long term, help change social pressures that contribute to the still-low share of female enrolment in engineering. (Someone will probably dispute that this is a valid objective for a news agency.)

    When there is a choice of N people, of whom less than N/2 are women, who would all be equally suited and qualified to give comment, then media (or university news offices) would be well-advised to choose (or recommend) women half the time. But this is not always the case.

    Paikin’s inability to understand the complexity of the situation his show faces in locating experts leads directly to his clumsy and offensive remarks. We should be glad that he has decided to seek help…from experts!

    • OgtheDim

      Yes, but is his help only going to be for 30 days and can he make phone calls from there?

      Joking aside, this is a systemic issue – you don’t throw a consulting firm at it and hope to get results in a month.

      • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

        Well, I don’t think it’s on TVO to fix the whole “systemic issue”—they need to choose their own actions appropriately, given the circumstances.

        “A team from Ryerson University” is not “a consulting firm.”

        • OgtheDim

          Its a consulting firm in all but name.

    • http://joeclark.org/weblogs/ Joe Clark

      choosing at random you’d get a woman about 25% of the time

      Only an engineer would believe that TV panellists are chosen at random. But I don’t want to start an argument between a Japanese-Canadian and a gay male, both with engineering degrees (of likely different kinds), because then we’d have to actually discuss why putting women on a TV show is anyone’s “top priority.”

    • Squintz

      Maybe that should be the thrust of Paikin’s discussion then and not his opinion that women are afraid to be on his show or can’t because of their “womanly responsibilities and insecurities.”

      • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

        Yes, that was my point.

  • VictorianShuter

    Last time I checked, many parts of Ontario are overwhelmingly white.