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BBC Is No Stranger to Sexism

BBC Is No Stranger to Sexism

BBC Is No Stranger to Sexism

The BBC has had the reputation for supposedly being unbiased and a supporter of equal opportunities for years. However, recently it has been noticed that the BBC has fallen within the sexism trap.

The most recent case being that of Sophie Radcliffe. Sophie has climbed Mont Blanc; cycled from the Alpine coast-to-coast climbing every mountain in between; run from London to Brighton in 16 hours and cycled from London to Paris in 24 hours; not to mention she has successfully completed two Ironman Challenges.  She is clearly no ordinary girl, however, according to the BBC she is not tough enough for their new programme World’s Toughest Army – because she is female.

Within five minutes of completing the entry form for “one of the most physically and mentally challenging processes any TV programme has attempted”, Sophie was contacted by a representative of the show and told her gender barred her from being a contestant.

Although the information explaining the show states that it is looking for “the toughest men in the country”, the application form refers consistently to “24 people”. There was also no mention of gender restrictions within the terms and conditions, which also confirms “all applications received before the deadline will be considered”.

Sophie believes that the perception that only men are capable of the toughest feats of endurance is a slap in the face. She is fighting to change the image of what women can do. This theme has also been picked up more recently by Sport England in their This Girl Can campaign.

The BBC, unfortunately, is not a stranger to allegations of sexism.

In 2014, researchers from City University, found that the BBC employs three male reporters for every female. Three years after an industry campaign was launched to increase the number of women heard on the Radio and TV, male experts still outnumber female experts on the main news programmes. The BBC had fewer women overall when interviewees, reporters and presenters were taken into account and Radio 4’s Today show had the lowest percentage of women appearing on air of all.   

There has also been a controversy over the gender pay gap within the BBC. In 2012, male staff members within the BBC were being paid an average of 10 per cent more than women. Figures were released under the Freedom of Information Act, which displayed that males held more senior role at the BBC and they earned an average of £17,000 more than their female counterparts.

Ageism against older women is also a recurring theme. In April 2012, thirty female employees of the BBC prepared to sue the broadcaster over complaints that they were victims of sex and age discrimination. A former employee of the BBC stated that “this kind of sexism is inherent within the BBC and it’s about time something was done to change this culture”.  

The lack of female radio presenters has caused uproar. This upheaval in turn has pressurised the broadcaster to boost the number of women presenting local radio programmes a priority.

It is upsetting that an establishment such as the BBC is no stranger to sexism; however, it shows that even today when it is believed that sexism would not be an issue, particularly in countries such as the United Kingdom, that there are no exceptions.


Nina is in her Honours year at The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow studying History. She loves keeping fit and healthy at the gym and singing to her hearts content. Because of Nina's love of all things history related, she has a passion for reading, writing and researching. Nina is the Editor-in-Chief for an online magazine for female students at Strathclyde called Her Campus Strath and wants to continue her passion for writing after graduation. 


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