The experiences of women engineers working in the BBC Television Service at Alexandra Palace, London, during the 1940s and 1950s, give insights into gender discrimination in broadcasting. These women first joined as radio engineers when the BBC was recruiting women during World War II, then transferred to television between 1946 and 1947. In interviews recorded in the 1990s, they talk about incidents of bullying and exclusion by men on crews who were hostile to women doing engineering jobs. Other memories are about being demoted from positions on camera and sound to vision mixing when the BBC Staff Association negotiated new grading for cameramen with BBC management at the expense of its female members. As the Television Service became established, women were eased out of skilled and responsible jobs when men returning from the war regained their positions in broadcast engineering.
Engineering Difference: Women's Accounts of Working as Technical Assistants in the BBC Television Service between 1946 and 1955
Emma Sandon teaches film and television history at Birkbeck, University of London. Her research on early British television draws on oral recordings of the Alexandra Palace Television Society. She has published two other articles from this research: “Nostalgia as Resistance: Taking Early British Television Seriously. The Case of the Alexandra Palace Television Society and the BBC,” in Re-viewing Television History: Critical Issues in Television Historiography, ed. Helen Wheatley (London: I. B. Tauris, 2007); and “La television expérimentale à l'Alexandra Palace: La BBC et sa programmation de varieties,” in Télévision: le moment experimental, ed. Gilles Delavaud et Denis Maréchal (Paris: Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (INA) / Édition Apogée, 2011).
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Emma Sandon; Engineering Difference: Women's Accounts of Working as Technical Assistants in the BBC Television Service between 1946 and 1955. Feminist Media Histories 1 October 2018; 4 (4): 8–32. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2018.4.4.8
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