7 March 2012
Maria Williams delivers a talk calling for a fairer gender playing field in Radio as part of International Women’s Day.
Maria Williams gave a talk to mark international Women’s Day on the 6 March to a group of keen broadcast supporters at BU.
Having previously worked at Radio 1 for over a decade and having launched Saturday Live with Fi Glover as executive Producer at BBC Radio 4, Maria now works as an independent radio consultant.
Through her long and successful career Maria noticed the distinct lack of female presence in the hierarchy of radio, from presenters, women in production teams and on the board of directors. This became particularly clear after attending The Sony Radio Academy Awards last year, which was named by some press as the ‘year of the lads’, where all the winners were men, and no one with an x chromosome was even nominated.
“The only two women who won were nominated for gift awards, and had both been working for over 40 years in radio, one was Annie Nightingale.”
After speaking to skillset, Maria realised that more women have degrees than their male counterparts in radio, but get paid less.
She raised the point that “If production teams are full of men, then it is likely the contributors will be too, and more women listen to the radio than men so the news you’re producing will be unbalanced and the audience will not be able to relate to it.”
This sparked Maria to start Sound Women, a network of over 200 inspirational women working in audio, with a mission to level the gender playing field in audio.
Anyone can join Sound Women, it is free at the moment, and they are currently setting up informal networking groups to develop discussions around audio. They have also set up a mentoring scheme with the BBC Academy for 30 industry professionals to mentor younger broadcasters who want help and guidance with developing their career.
Sound Women will also have its own awards ceremony, which for example will award recognition to businesses which have done well to include a fair representation of women in advancing their business.
Maria advised broadcast producers of the future to ‘create your own culture’, stating that ‘persistence and resilience’ was the key to success and also to ‘self promote and showcase your work’ so you stand out.