Are reality TV shows harder to win if you’re a woman?

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According to newspaper reports, a number of BBC Masterchef fans have complained about the lack of women on this year’s Professionals show. Masterchef: The Professionals 2012 judges

At the beginning of this year’s series out of 40 chefs chosen to compete, only five of these contestants were women. And now we’re down to the final six, there is just one woman left.

This comes after the BBC2 show Great British Bake off featured an all-male final for the first time in the show’s history.

Incredibly, X Factor too has been hit by the same curse as all female singers left weeks ago. There are three men left in that final.

So is something going on?

It’s tempting to think there is something sexist about TV reality shows. But unlike some Masterchef fans – one tweeted: “Why are there so few women on Masterchef? It’s a disgrace” – I don’t believe anything sinister is afoot.

A BBC spokesperson claims that contestants are judged purely by their cooking skills – and as a viewer I would agree. One of the satisfying things about Masterchef is that the right person does seem to go. Obviously we are not sat at home tasting the food – but from just looking at the plates produced, there are some you’d rather eat than others. Most of the time when a dish looks appetising it is judged as so. I can’t honestly think of one time so far during this year’s contest when I’ve disagreed with the judges.

The selection for Masterchef: The Professionals requires competitors to have a level 2 NVQ in cookery and also to have worked in a professional kitchen for at least two years. But it is a male-dominated industry and presumably this is reflected in the number of women actually applying. Therefore it’s perhaps not surprising in previous years Masterchef: The Professionals, which has been going since 2008, has had only one female winner (2010 – Claire Lara, 32.)

I must admit I’ve only half-watched X Factor this year – it’s only ever on in the background while I’m washing up/ordering a curry/ sending emails or folding laundry.

From what I’ve seen it would appear some more talented singers went a while ago. Jahmene Douglas is a good singer and should surely win. James Arthur also seems a credible singer although I’m not sure who is voting for the crooner Christopher Maloney and what is doing there …

However let’s not forget previous years of X Factor have seen Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke win. Meanwhile, I’m a Celebrity was an all-girl final this year – with actress Charlie Brooks being crowned Queen of the Jungle.

Read More: Masterchef in the soup over lack of women

* Masterchef Professionals is searching for contestants for 2013. Apply here

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About Featureworld

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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