Well, women got the vote in 1918 (or over 21s in 1928) and yet the BBC still make news in 2013 by actually having two women for the very first time presenting its flagship radio news programme, Today. Whoopidoodah BBC…perhaps.
Is it a cause of celebration or one for scornful laughter. I can’t quite decide.
I interviewed Sarah Montague, one of Today’s presenters and until this month the only female one, and she told me that the Today newsroom is not the hotbed of testosterone I had fondly imagined it to be. That must just be the rest of the BBC…
However, she did give me a lovely interview, (and she famously doesn’t do interviews) which you can read here; the Christmas story is especially sweet:
Interview with Sarah Montague
Sarah Montague is one of the reasons I am an ardent fan of the BBC radio 4 news programme Today; I feel I know her well as her voice is often the first to float into my consciousness in the morning. She is the only female presenter out of a team of five, which must be interesting at times.
Sarah Montague BBC career began as a presenter with the launch of BBC News 24 but she had an interesting career path before she arrived at journalism which I hope we’ll hear a bit more about.
Jane: Sarah, thanks so much for taking the time to talk, particularly as you must get up at silly o clock most week days! I know you rarely give interviews so am doubly pleased to be talking with you today.
First, can you tell us something about your career pre BBC? How did you end up at the BBC?
Sarah: Well, I kept getting sacked from my other jobs! I did a biology degree at university and had thought about medicine as a career but didn’t fancy 5 or 6 years of training. I knew I wanted to do something that made a difference but I didn’t have an actual plan and I wasn’t sure at all of what I wanted to do when I was studying.
My first job was in the City where I lasted a year, and then I took up a job with Charles Tyrwhitt, the ‘shirt man.’ The company has since gone from strength to strength but back then there were just 3 of us. This was in 1991. My friend, Nick Wheeler, who set up the company, sacked me
My friend, Miriam O’Reilly has had a different experience of the BBC, one where femageism reared its very ugly head. She gave a very witty account of this in her speech to a media conference I was at, and she gave me permission to reproduce it. Read it here. It will make you both laugh and tear your hair out.
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Posted on October 10th, 2013 by Jane