Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Will we have a woman champion ?

In my recent blog entry on Mastermind India I remarked upon the fact that three out of the five champions were women, and commented that its high time that Mastermind had another woman as champion. My contention was that there are enough good women quizzers out there.

Its an interesting question to ask - have women performed worse than men in the show since it returned to BBC TV ? I've been taking a look at the statistics since the return of the series to BBC TV, and this is what emerges. There are many points to make, many inferences you can draw. So here they are, in no particular order : -

* Women have made up between 17 % and 26% of the total number of competitors in each series. Lowest was 17% in my 2007 series, highest was 26% in the 2004 series. The BBC always stresses that they do their best to encourage women to apply to take part, and the number of women contenders each year is a pretty fair reflection of the proportion of applications for the show that are received from women.

* Women have been proportionately under-represented in each of the Grand Finals except 2007. In 2003,4 and 5 there were no women finalists. The first woman to reach a Humphrys era final is my friend and 2006 conqueror, Kath Drury. In 2007 there were 2 women, Sandra Piddock and Anna Torpey, who reached the finals. This meant that statistically in 2007 you were actually more likely to reach the final if you were a woman, since only 4.1 % of all men contenders reached the final. The best position achieved by a woman in a Humphrys final is 4th - Kath Drury in 2006, Sandra Piddock in 2007.

* Statistically women have been quite a bit more successful in winning their heats and reaching the semi final. You would expect 25% of all men, and 25% of all women to reach the semis. However, with the exception of 2004, in every year women have outperformed this by between 1 and 15%. In those same years, with the exception of 2004, less than 25% of all men have reached the semi finals, with the exception of 2003 where some losing contenders qualified for the semis through highest scores. Even in 2003 women were still proportionately more successful in reaching the semis.

* Figures suggest that although the proportion of women contenders is not growing, those women who do take part are becoming more successful. If the trends of 2006 and 2007 continue, then its reasonable to suggest that there could well be another woman champion within the next couple of years.

Its reasonable to suggest that sheer weight of numbers is one reason why men have dominated the finals since 2003. If you look at the actual performances of the women who have reached the semi finals since 2003, the majority, although not all, scored less in their semi specialist subject than they did in their first round heat. But then that's true of the majority of men as well.

What are the chances of a woman being the 2008 champion ? Well, with 7 shows still to go in the first round we have 4 women through to the semis so far. I think its reasonable to expect that we may get as many as another two women through to the semis . Of the four, Nancy Dickman had the most impressive General Knowledge, and currently has the joint highest GK score of the series so far with 14. Of course, if I was a betting man I would point to the fact that there are 2 previous finalists - Richard Heller and Mel Kinsey - who have already claimed their place in the semi final. Not only that, but there is a certain Dr. Ian Bayley lurking in the middle of the draw, and woe betide anyone who does not take his challenge seriously.



The Statistics


2003 Series

48 contenders overall.
10 women took part 20.8%
38 men took part 79%
4 women reached the semi final 25 % (40% of all women contenders reached the semi final )
12 men reached semi final 75% (31.5 % of all men reached the semi final )
No women reached the final
4 men reached the final 100% (10.5%)

2004 Series


96 contenders
25 women took part 26%
71 men took part 74%
5 women reached the semi final 20.8% (20% of all women contenders reached the semi final )
19 men reached the semi final 79% (26.7% of all men reached the semi final )
No women reached the final
6 men reached the final 100% (8.4% of all men reached the final )

2005 Series

96 contenders
23 women took part 24%
73 men took part 76%
6 women reached the semi final 25% (26% of all women contenders reached the semi final )
18 men reached the semi final 75% (24.6% of men reached the semi final )
No women reached the final
6 men reached the final 100% (8.2%)

2006 Series

96 contenders
23 women took part 24%
73 men took part 76%
9 women reached the semi final 37.5 %(39.1% of all women contenders reached the semi final)
15 men reached the final 62.5% ( 20.5% of men reached the semis )
1 woman reached the final 16% (4% of all women contenders reached the final )
5 men reached the final 83% (6.8 % of all men reached the final)

2007 Series

96 contenders
17 women took part 17.7%
79 men took part 82%
6 women reached the semi final 25% (35.2% of all women contenders reached the semi final )
18 men reached the semi final 75% (22.7% of all men reached the semi final )
2 women reached the final 33.3% (11.7% of all women reached the final )
4 men reached the final 66.6% (4.1% of all men reached the final )

2008

(After 17 shows )

68 contenders
14 women 20.5%
54 men 79.5%
4 women reached semi final 23.5% (28.5% of all women reached semi final )
13 men reached semi final 76.5% (24% of all men reached the semi final )

2 comments:

Nancy said...

As a female Mastermind contestant I found this analysis very interesting indeed! I have read somewhere that John Humphrys believes that men do better on specialist subjects, but that women do better on general knowledge. Since you seem to have all the figures at your disposal it might be an interesting investigation!

Londinius said...

Hello Nancy, and thank you for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment. I am glad that you found the analysis interesting - I enjoyed doing it. I've compiled the stats on the 008 series as we have been going along, but all of the raw information on every series since the start of the 2003 revival is available through the reviews of each individual show in the Archives of Weaver's Week. I like the idea of analysing the relative performances on specialist and GK , but I think that will have to wait a while !