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Introducing the ENWE Network: Les Expertes

Meet the ENWE network’s database of French and Francophone women experts.

Les Expertes project – one of the partners included the ENWE network – is the free database of French and Francophone women researchers, business leaders, presidents of associations or heads of institutions, aiming to promote a fairer and more gender-balanced representation in the media.

We asked the database a few questions to learn more about their mission, selection process, and upcoming projects.

Simona Isler of AcademiaNet and Julia Heres Garcia of Les Expertes at the ENWE “First Step to The Top” Event (Milan, 2 December, 2021)
Photo Credits: Sofia Blu Cremaschi

What is the context that led to the founding of your project/database?
The Les Expertes database was born out of a paper guide created in 2012 by a French journalist, Marie-Françoise Colombani, and a former Afghan diplomat, Chekeba Hachemi at a time when only 20% of experts interviewed in the media were women. 

In 2015, thanks to the support of two public media groups, Radio France and France Télévisions, the Egaé group was able to set up the digital database Les Expertes.

How do you select/add women of excellence to your database? 
We let the women be the sole judges of their expertise. The criteria we use to validate the profiles are those listed on the page before the form. For example, for female experts who are researchers, they must have written at least one academic article; for female experts from civil society, they must be responsible for an association.

We let the women be the sole judges of their expertise.

How can users access its services?
All users can access the experts’ profiles directly on the site. They can use the search engine to look for experts using keywords related to their fields of expertise. They can also use the advanced search tool to refine their search by indicating a country, a city and a language spoken. To access the personal contact of experts, however, users must be accredited. The accreditation application is available at the end of the first page of the site. We validate each accreditation after checking the identity documents or press cards. We make sure that malicious people cannot get access to the contact details of the experts.

What impact do you think the project has had since its creation in the context in which it operates? What are your greatest achievements?
The project has had a tremendous impact since it began in 2015. We now have over 5,530 experts registered in the database from over 80 countries and over 8,300 accredited journalists. We have also created new websites over the years – Expertes Francophonie in 2017, Expertes Algeria and Expertes Tunisia in 2018, Expertes Gender / Gender Experts in 2021, and Expertes Senegal in 2022.

According to the last survey conducted by our team at the end of 2021, 68% of respondents have been contacted at least once by the media since they registered on the site and 55% have been interviewed at least once by a journalist.

In France, according to the latest report from the Global Media Monitoring Project, 41% of experts interviewed in the media in 2020 were women. The doubling of this figure, in just five years, is a huge achievement that we must continue to build on.

We now have over 5,530 experts registered in the database
from over 80 countries and over 8,300 accredited journalists.

What is your take on the results of the latest global media monitoring project?
If we look at the overall results of the GMMP from five years ago, we don’t see a lot of progress, which is quite surprising. We could argue that this is mainly due to the covidium crisis, during which we saw a large majority of male experts interviewed on health issues. However, apart from the pandemic, media companies around the world are marked by a strong inertia, responsible for the fact that women still have difficulties to access management positions in these companies, but also for the inability of journalists, working under extreme time constraints, to renew their address book. The “impostor syndrome”, which leads to the self-censorship of female experts, is also an important factor in their lack of visibility in the media. Thus, we still have a lot of work to do, mainly in terms of training journalists on gender equality, but also in terms of the impact of gender norms and roles on gender equality in the media.

ENWE – European Network for Women Excellence is an advocacy group committed to creating a network of European databases that offer an extensive selection of prestigious female profiles for interviews, conferences, and panels. Find out more about our network of partners here.

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