Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The horror stories of sexism past 

Mad Men (the TV series) highlights sexist work practices in fifties and sixties America, and Katharine Whitehorn’s Guardian Review gives some choice examples. But I am a little surprised at her contention that things were a little better in the UK at that time.

After all the BBC once famously ruled that anyone working for the Corporation had to have a male line manager. That was in the aftermath of the 2nd World war, during which women had climbed to senior administrative and programming posts. The BBC intended to ensure normality as men were demobilised and started work for the Corporation. Scores of talented women resigned in disgust. One woman stayed on because she was exceptionally allowed to remain a departmental head – of Lost Property.

This tale was told to me by a woman (an university colleague) who had been a secretary in BOAC (forerunner to BA) effectively chief of staff for the chief executive, taking decisions commensurate with that role, but only on a secretaries grade and therefore earning a secretaries pension – which obliged her to keep working well into her sixties after retirement from the airline.

If the USA was worse, wow.

Puts our current gender and other balance struggles in a certain context…

Labels: ,

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com