The news anchors at Global News BC conducted an on-air "sociological experiment" to shed light on gender biases.
On Wednesday, news anchor Sophie Lui took to Instagram to share a summary of the experiment with followers. The experiment required anchors to wear the same outfits every day for a week, in an effort to observe the differences in how viewers would react to male and female anchors' appearances.
During the first week, morning anchor Jason Pires and evening anchor Chris Gailus repeated their suits without eliciting notable viewer response. The following week, Lui along with Sonia Sunger, Katelin Owsianski and Kristi Gordon each wore the same outfit during their broadcasts.
According to Lui, the women's outfits garnered significant attention, with viewers flooding the station with emails with criticism about their outfit choices.
“We conducted a bit of a sociological experiment at work,” read the on-screen text of Lui's Instagram reel before revealing footage of the men’s and women’s repeated clothing choices. “And the viewer response for the men: Zero emails into the station. As for the women…”
Liu went on to share screenshots of the several emails the station received inquiring about the women’s repeated looks, including, “Is this some kind of protest?” and “Have they run out of clothes?”
“Hi, I’m just wondering, are Sophie and Kristi wearing the same clothes all week? Just want to make sure I’m not going crazy,” another viewer wrote in.
In her caption, Liu noted that it was “refreshing” that most of the emails were "curious" instead of negative. In the comments section, she told followers that the experiment wasn't intended to "draw out" negative responses.
Fans responded to Liu’s post with supportive messages and applauded the Global News team for helping raise awareness with their experiment.
“Thank you for doing this. It just illustrates how women are much more scrutinized than our male counterparts when it comes to not only the broadcast industry but every other industry,” an Instagram user shared.
“I love this experiment, and I’m not at all shocked with the results. Patriarchy alive and well!” someone wrote.
“I’m glad most of the comments weren’t negative, at least. But the point still stands,” a fan commented. “Can’t win sometimes.”
“What an ingenious way to illustrate this point! Bravo, Global!,” added another.
Following the experiment, anchor Jason Pires told Daily Hive that the experiment was a success in demonstrating the greater scrutiny faced by female colleagues.
"Our colleagues who are women are way more under scrutiny by our viewers than men," he said.
Liu chimed in, condemning viewers who feel emboldened to comment more freely on the appearance of women reporters.
“I think they’d have to look at their own lives and really consider where their priorities are,” she said. “I don’t know why those people do it, but I feel sad for them.”