By RADIO GIRL
Sexism, it would seem, is the current topic de jour. Whether it’s Julia Gillard making headlines worldwide for her attack on Tony Abbott, or Tracey Spicer delivering a scathing letter to a former employer that demanded she take “two inches off her hair and two inches off her arse,” sexism and whether it plays a role in our lives has become a hot button topic.
For me, it’s easy. I’ve no doubt that I work in one of the most sexist industries still operating – radio. Even as I write this I’m not sure if I will submit it or attach my name to it, knowing the kind of reaction I will get from the industry I am still a part of.
For the past six years I’ve worked my way up, from a stint in a small country town, progressing on to bigger markets and eventually capital city radio. I have worked in pretty much every department; copy (ads), announcing, panelling, producing and managing. I’m proud of how hard I have worked and what I have been able to achieve. And for 90% of the time I have loved it. The other 10% is full of stories that sound like something from a 1960s soap opera:
– The General Manager who hired me over the phone then told me, to my face, he wasn’t sure if he would have hired me in person.
– Being asked if I was hormonal, if my marriage was okay, and if there was something else going on in my life when I had a dispute with a work colleague.
– The group of managers who rated every woman in the company on how good her arse was. (They had a points system and everything.)
– The work experience girl who was told it would be good for her career to go back to a visiting (and married) announcer’s hotel room.
– Being told by a fellow announcer not to go for a promotion because my current job was a great one to ‘have a baby in’.
– The General Manager who hired a girl unsuitable for the job because she was #@$%able. (His words. He was forced to fire her less than 3 months later.)
– The high profile journalist who asked me, with my husband sitting next to me, if I had %$#&ed anyone else since I’d been married. And would I like to? (I still can’t believe I even dignified the question by saying ‘no’.)
– The General Manager that told the girls in the station daily whether their ‘racks’ looked good or not.
– Being left in no doubt that a married woman’s affair with her co-worker had made her somehow a more valuable work asset.
– And just this week I was overlooked for a job, given to a bloke who has less experience than me.
Then there are the countless jokes, the continuous sexual innuendo and the unwanted physical attention – ranging from staring to groping.
Don’t even get me started on the discrepancy between men and women in high profile roles. There was hysteria earlier this year when ARN announced a female-only breakfast show with Chrissie Swan and Jane Hall, when male-only shows have dominated the airwaves for years. (Martin & Molloy, Hamish and Andy, Merrick and Rosso, Ross and John…)