Futurist’s Workforce Predictions Not Sexist, According To Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, May 30, 1997 -- The Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) released its decision today concerning a comment made by futurist Frank Ogden, aired on CFRA (Ottawa).

The decision concerns a short segment aired in March 1996, entitled “Dr. Tomorrow.” The segment, which featured a futurist, Frank Ogden, dealt with the future role of women in the workforce and in business. Ogden stated that women were becoming increasingly involved in “sunrise” industries and had advantages in business that men did not have. He added that, in the future, women would hold more than 50% of jobs and positions of power and influence. A CFRA listener (who had complained about three other programs on CFRA that allegedly discriminated against men) complained that the “Dr. Tomorrow” segment was unfair to men. He argued that Ogden had promoted “gender warfare” by suggesting that men would not succeed in business in the future and by implying that businesses should not hire or promote men. He felt that Ogden promoted the view that men were sexist and opposed to successful women in business. He added that Ogden’s contention that women would succeed by “instinct” was sexist and incorrect, denying that men had “instinct” or that women could succeed by merit or hard work. In the listener’s opinion, the program violated the principles of the industry’s Sex-Role Portrayal Code.

CFRA replied that, rather than attack men, Ogden had reminded men that advances in technology would level the playing field for all people in the workplace, thereby creating equal opportunities for success. In no way, CFRA argued, did the program suggest that men were sexist or opposed to successful women in business. The listener, unsatisfied with this reply, asked the CBSC to have its Ontario Regional Council review the matter.

In its decision (attached), the Ontario Regional Council affirmed that the complainant had presented a distorted understanding of Ogden’s comments. The Council noted that nowhere had Ogden stated that men were opposed to successful women in business, nor had he stated that businesses should not hire or promote men. Rather, the futurist pointed out that, generally speaking, men already hold positions of power and influence and that there is some room for women to be able to catch up and do slightly better in the future. As the Council stated, “it appears that... the complainant views any positive statement about women as the equivalent of a degrading statement about men. The CBSC does not share this view; nor does it believe that such positive assertions constitute a violation of any provision of the Sex-Role Portrayal Code.”

In addition to administering the Sex-Role Portrayal Code, the CBSC administers broadcasting industry codes on ethics, television violence and journalistic ethics.

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This and other recent decisions of the CBSC are available on the World Wide Web at www.cbsc.ca. For more information, please contact the National Chair of the CBSC, Ron Cohen, at (###) ###-####.