Olenka Frenkiel’s piece in today’s Guardian about sexism and ageism at the BBC reminded me of something I really need to do when I’m Queen.
At the everyday ageism conference I was in a session about the invisibility of women over the age of 50 in TV. “Think of some solutions”, encouraged the Chair of the session. “The crazier the better – what’s the thing we could do that would make a difference if only we dared?”
“So what”, I thought – only semi-flippantly – “if, every time a presenter or lead reporter of a news or factual programme at the BBC retired/resigned/moved on, they had to be replaced with someone of the opposite gender? I’m not planning to sack anyone (though there are people I’d love to see the back of) Just neatening up the balance by a process of evolution.
Just think how different the world would look. We could have a female economics editor, business editor, political editor and social affairs editor telling us what gives on the 10 O’clock News. We could have a female chair of Question Time, a female presenter of This Week, a female-fronted equivalent of the Marr Show on a Sunday morning. There would be female presenters on Mastermind, University Challenge, Match of the Day, Top Gear and Gardener’s World. The General Election coverage of 2020 would be fronted by a woman. We’d have to concede ground on Watchdog and Antiques Roadshow. And Great British Bake Off would suddenly have three male presenters and a lone woman, but I feel it would be a price worth paying.
It will, of course, never happen. But something needs to. I came up with this list off the top of my head, first thing in the morning and against the clock – I’ve got a train to catch. I bet there are lots more I could have added. And the question I’m left with, is why does it feel so utterly normal that all of those jobs are done by men? What if? Why not?