“Sex discrimination is as bad as it’s ever been, not just in the BBC, but everywhere”, Samira Ahmed told Leeds Trinity University students.
The BBC journalist and broadcaster discussed the prevalence of sex discrimination during LTU’s annual Journalism & Media Week.
The Newswatch presenter who won an equal pay tribunal against the BBC in 2020 said: “There is so much sex discrimination still. Women ask for pay rises and we are greedy or demanding and men aren’t. It’s certainly not men’s fault but they somehow have this residual idea that women’s earnings aren’t serious”.
Samira was at the centre of the equal pay tribunal against the BBC when she discovered that Jeremy Vine, who hosted Points of View, was being paid £3000 per episode compared to Samira’s £440 per episode – despite the shows being similar and Ahmed having higher viewer ratings.
As a result of the win, Samira received the money she was owed by the BBC and 700 women also received pay rises.
When reflecting on the BBC’s salaries Samira said “that’s what a lot of us at the BBC resent, we were paying the huge salaries of the big star names in management while salaries for the people that were actually doing the work hadn’t changed in 20 years”.
Samira spoke to students about the importance of pay transparency and gave them advice on how to approach this when entering the workplace. “I cannot urge you enough, you need to find out what your colleagues are on, from your first job. Talk to male and female colleagues. Men be allies to your sisters”.
Samira also encouraged students to join unions and praised the efforts of the NUJ throughout her career as a journalist.
When asked by one student how she has managed to be an open and proud feminist in today’s society, Samira replied “As you get older, you do just stop putting up with c**p and you just are more likely to challenge it. You have more confidence in your own abilities and you also learn how to build networks around each other. You need support from each other”.
“It’s not men vs women, people vs anyone else, it’s about equality and fairness” said Ahmed, who was awarded a Doctor of Letters for her contribution to journalism and gender equality by Kingston University this year.
Samira told students she’d love to get more younger people’s opinions on Newswatch and encouraged them to contact the show and get involved.
Newswatch is on BBC 1 every Friday at 23:30.