Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey has said she is proud of the continuing discussions she sparked surrounding equal pay at the BBC.
In a livestreamed interview at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week, the Radio 4 host discussed both equal pay at the BBC and the media, and equal pay battles in wider society.
Jane specifically highlighted the group of women at the BBC that was formed as part of the open letter she co-ordinated calling to close the pay gap at the end of 2017.
Jane said: “I’m proud of the fact that we’ve formed a group of women at the BBC that continue to talk to each other and continue to support each other.”
Jane’s letter received over 40 signatures, including Question of Sport’s Sue Barker, Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, and The One Show’s Alex Jones.
Jane did acknowledge that not only has the BBC pay gap got better since 2017, it was never as bad as other organisations.
She gave examples of commercial broadcasting organisations, large corporations like Asda, and city councils such as Birmingham, which have also seen battles for equal pay.
Jane also recognised that this letter came from a place of “white, privileged” entitlement, but this was important to subsequently raise up the voices of women who perhaps didn’t have the same open platform as those at the BBC.
She said: “If we’re being stuffed in terms of our pay, then what do you think is happening to women of colour in a whole variety of occupations and professions?
“I felt we had the responsibility to acknowledge our privilege and make noise about what was happening to us,” she added.
As Jane has had access to the scripts of previous Woman’s Hour episodes, she pointed out that equal pay had actually been brought up in 1947 and thinks it’s “a bit depressing that we’re still doing it in 2020”.
Jane was thankful for the BBC for allowing space for these discussions and that they let her keep her job following the letter in 2017.
She said: “I give credit to the BBC for allowing me to talk about it as I did, and to campaign for a decrease in the pay gap at the BBC and for allowing me to stay at the BBC.”
As well as the pay gap, Jane touched on other aspects of her job that make it harder for women.
For example, she doesn’t think women are encouraged to have the same confidence as men, and there are no comparable women to broadcast giants such as Andrew Neil, particularly women of a similar age to Andrew.
However, she did say that “gladiatorial and competitive” female interviewers are more acceptable nowadays.
Similarly, the constant scrutiny of her opinions is one of the reasons she cited for leaving Woman’s Hour, an announcement that came in September.
Despite this, she said the connection between the programme and the audience is what she’ll miss most about the programme.
“I think the connection is genuinely unbeatable.”