Rigged against them: women camera operators at the BBC during the 1970s and 1980s

Jeannine Baker, Nick Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In 1973, in response to pressure from trade unions and women’s groups, and a damning report that exposed the discriminatory policies and attitudes underpinning women's employment, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) committed to the recruitment of women into previously male-only technical occupations. This article examines draws upon public and private archives, and oral history interviews with former BBC women film and television camera operators, to assess the extent to which the Corporation’s commitment to equality brought about sustained change to women’s opportunities in technical areas of television. Although stereotypical assumptions about women’s technical ability proved unfounded, women’s employment in camera roles continued to be restricted through recruitment policies and procedures that favoured male applicants. Women’s entry into technical areas also challenged existing gendered power relations and workplace culture within television studios. The BBC’s inadequate commitment to meaningful change to discriminatory work practices further entrenched the equation of technical skill with masculine labour.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalWomen's History Review
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • British Broadcasting Corporation
  • Technology
  • television production
  • sexual discrimination
  • film production
  • camera operating
  • Oral history

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