The Pioneering Women of the BBC’s Early Years

BBC News May 2, 2016

The BBC has announced that it aims to get more women into positions of authority by 2020, but what was the situation in the early years of the organization? Dr. Kate Murphy has been researching the era for a new book.

The 1920s were a time of great contrasts for working women. On the one hand the vote had been won in 1918 (for those aged over 30) and the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919 had removed most barriers to the professions.

On the other hand, there was entrenched discrimination such as unequal pay and enforced retirement on marriage – the Marriage Bar – in occupations such as teaching and the civil service. The adage “a woman’s place is in the home” was true for most women, once they were married.

BBC Radio Women

Newsreader Elizabeth Cowell listening to a recording of her voice at Maida Vale in 1936. Read more