It was Mother’s Day this month, and it made me think how different things were for our Mothers in the worlds of business and speaking in particular. I don’t remember seeing many business or speaking role models on TV for example.
When thinking about the first female newsreaders on TV you might think of Angela Rippon or Moira Stuart. Angela Rippon became a regular on the BBC None O’clock News in 1975 and Moira Stuart in 1981. These are the faces I remember, but they were not the first.
Nancy Winnington (aka Nan Winton) was the first women to appear on the TV version of the BBC news on the 20th June 1960 (a bit before my time, cheeky!). Today that would be unremarkable, but back then it was reported in the national press and generated much discussion for months. It was announced as ‘an experiment’.
Nan was a serious journalist who had worked on Panorama and the like. She was thought to be serious enough to overcome the prejudice that believed women to be too ‘frivolous’ to be the bearers of bad news. BBC Audience research found that viewers felt a woman reading the late-night news was “not acceptable” and so the ‘experiment’ ended in October that year.
It seems unbelievable now.
And Moira Stuart was not the first black woman to read the news. That accolade falls to a Jamaican woman called Barbara Blake Hannah. She appeared as an on-camera reporter for “Today with Eamonn Andrews” on Thames TV. Her experience led the way for the likes of Moira Stuart and Trevor MacDonald, but her skills were questioned by some who felt it was inappropriate for her to appear on screen.
After initial success, she was let go without explanation. Her producer has since said that viewers were applying pressure by calling the show on a daily basis to complain and demand she was taken off the air because she was black.
The world wasn’t ready for female newsreaders.
Angela Rippon was the first female newsreader to gain acceptance on the BBC, and regularly presented the Nine O’Clock News from 1975, and Moira Stuart joined the ranks in 1981. These were both breakthroughs, which may seem odd now. At that time male faces were all that had been seen in the ‘serious’ role of newsreader.
These women put themselves out there against all the odds at a time when it was very much not the norm.
Whilst it is a much more common sight to see women reading the news now or presenting TV shows, it is still very much more common to see a male speaker. And that is not so much to do with any form of prejudice, but much more about the confidence of women to stand up and speak out, and the lack of opportunities.
There are fewer opportunities for women speakers and even fewer opportunities that are organised by women for other women. And it’s time that changed. It is so important that we step up and take our place in the spotlight. We need to be a role model for other women. We need to make it the norm to see highly successful female speakers at every conference, and event. It’s time to put yourself out there.
That’s the reason I created the Live Love Laugh Lives, on the back of the TEDx AinleyTopWomen event that I organised and hosted in December 2019.
In this event, you get the opportunity not only to speak but to be coached on what to speak about and how to deliver it. You get a professionally shot and edited video of you speaking, and of you in an interview with me. This goes out to all my online following across all channels – and of course, you get a copy to put out to your tribe.
Not only that but you get to be featured in a published book. The first one is just out – “WHYs Words – Be Seen, Be Heard, Be You”. Nothing says “EXPERT” more than being a published author.
I am closing off bookings as I write, for our next event, so if you want to find out more and be considered for one of the 10 spots available (perhaps for an event later this year, if all the spots have gone this time), then please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook, and we can have a chat about how you can get involved.
And meanwhile, not just on Mothers Day, but every day, let’s celebrate how far we have come, and keep pushing for all that we can be. Be Seen. Be Heard. Be You!