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BBC seeks women to talk about classical music

February 17, 2017 by norman lebrecht

31 comments.


Announcing a positive discrimination programme:

We’re looking for female experts who’d like to appear on air as contributors to BBC programmes. Find out how to take part in our London event.

Details here.


Comments (31)

  1. David Osborne says:

    Necessary, unfortunately.

  2. Peter says:

    ‘Positive discrimination’, what an Orwellian term.

    That discriminatory feminism nonsense reminds me of the joke about the Jewish stutterer who went to apply for the job as a radio announcer, and when returning and asked to report why he didn’t get the job he spouted: “d-d-d-d-damn a-a-a-anti-s-s-s-s-semites”.

    Nobody has stopped a woman in the west with a brain to make her competitive way onto the radio microphone, not in the last 40 years at least, not because she was a woman.

    1. John Borstlap says:

      The problem is, that we don’t know. If a woman is refused for something, and it was because of gender bias not because of not being suited, PC culture makes sure it will be presented with another reason.

      1. Peter says:

        But the same is true for men. Non sequitur.

        1. John Borstlap says:

          Yes, that is also true. What then: continue secretly suppressing women? or men? or both?

  3. David Osborne says:

    You can use the term ‘Orwellian’ if you like mate, I doubt the man himself would agree.

  4. Bruce says:

    Let’s hope they can get women on the air based on their expertise, not their age/ beauty/ weight/ whatever [insert random bullshit male criterion here].

  5. John Borstlap says:

    Sally could do such job quite well since she loves Boulez’ work and can talk about music in the same fragmented way as Pli selon Pli, adding a couple of Plis herself. (But of course I would not give her permission, women are free to do what they want as long as it has been approved of.)

  6. Alexander says:

    I watched “What makes a great soprano” with Kiri. As I could remember it was made by BBC. I like that much. Also ( just from memory) can say some good words on Tanya Beckett and Alice Baxter , have never thought about women’s discrimination there. Love the joke Peter said above 😉

  7. Jamesay says:

    Whoever they choose m… please don’t let it be someone who sounds like a CBBC or Blue Peter Prom presenter all breathy and excited and patronizing like the female Breakfast presenter this morning Saturday 18 Feb.
    Surely they could find knowledgeable women who sound grown up and have some gravitas!

    1. Kathleen Ross says:

      Isn’t that the issue? I’m sure they were not the only women they could find. Speaks volumes that “breathy and excited and patronizing” is what comes to mind when you think of female presenters. Also, they are looking for particular experts in their field, not just journalists (who are of course also experts in their field).

      1. Jamesay says:

        Excuse me … please do not interpret my comment about a particular presenter as my saying I find all female presented like the one I encountered today. Her gender is irrelevant it’s her patronizing and uber excited childlike tone and vocalisations that I find irritating. I’m certain that I’d find such speech from a make presenter equally dumbed down.

  8. pooroperaman says:

    It’s such a shame that there are no women on Radio 3, as Clemency Burton-Hill, Sarah Mohr-Pietsch, Sarah Walker, Katie Derham, Suzi Klein, Caroline Gill, Hannah French, Verity Sharp, Natasha Loges and Anna Picard would all tell you.

    1. Kathleen Ross says:

      Are they not also looking for ethnic diversity?

      1. Max Grimm says:

        Their preferred candidate would ideally be an African-Irish, Jewish, lesbian single mother but alas, they are hard to find.

        1. pooroperaman says:

          You could always dress up.

          Seriously, how does this square with equal opportunities legislation? To put it more bluntly, in what way is any of this legal?

          1. Max Grimm says:

            Don’t ask me.
            To me, discrimination is invariably negative and ‘equal opportunity’ should stand for a policy of treating all applicants and employees fairly and without discrimination.

          2. Kathleen Ross says:

            As a Scot working in classical music, I feel it would be great to hear a diversity of accents in these programmes (and I’m aware we have the lovely Sean Rafferty at Radio 3, for example). We can then provide role models for young people in our various fields. It’s a wider issue than simply asking women to make up some imaginary quota.

            In reply to the comment

            “Their preferred candidate would ideally be an African-Irish, Jewish, lesbian single mother but alas, they are hard to find”

            isn’t there a prominent orchestral principal (double bass) that is African-Irish? I wouldn’t comment on their religion or sexuality, but why shouldn’t we all be represented? How many of my colleagues of varying ethnicities were seriously lacking role models when they were growing up?

            This leads me to the point that, yes, I understand your comments about equal opportunities for all genders, ethnicities, etc. However, there will still be an imbalance in the employment pool, if diversity in the workplace is not tackled. There will not be the variety of people around to actually apply for certain jobs, if they haven’t reached adulthood believing that these opportunities could one day be available to them.

          3. Max Grimm says:

            @Kathleen Ross
            My description of the preferred candidate was a flippant reference to a quote by the character of Bernard Woolley in the series Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister, describing an ‘ideal candidate’ for a civil service position.

            In reality, any job and any pool of interested individuals/applicants and employees will always be at an “imbalance” when compared to the respective cities’/countries’ demographics on the whole. And it seems that initiatives such as ‘solving the imbalance’, ‘having the workforce reflect society as a whole’ and ‘creating role models’ are inherently inefficacious, overwhelmingly lead to the very thing they try to eliminate (discrimination) and often culminate in sheer tokenism.

          4. Kathleen Ross says:

            @Max Grimm

            Ah, I see. Didn’t get the reference. Too young to have seen these the first time round, but they are extremely relevant for our times, I understand!

            Yes, tokenism is patronising, and presumably there are occasions where such schemes unintentionally have the opposite of the desired outcome, as you say. However, I’m not sure what the alternative solution would be? Should we just ignore the issue? Ethnic diversity, in particular, in classical music is an issue, sadly. And I don’t believe that is to do with an imbalanced demographic.

            Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a need for organisations such as the Chineke Foundation.

          5. Max Grimm says:

            @Kathleen Ross
            Here I agree with you and ignoring things isn’t a valid course either. Unfortunately it seems that no matter how one goes about addressing these issues and topics, it ends in a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ scenario.
            As for “Too young to have seen these the first time round […]”, I fall into the same category, having still been the proverbial gleam in my father’s eye when the series were originally broadcast. They are, as you said, still very much relevant for our times.

    2. will says:

      Tee Hee! Well said!

  9. stweart says:

    Please NOT K.D. !

  10. Elizabeth Owen says:

    Ive never understood why they have such dreadful presenters at the proms. Just show the concert!

  11. will says:

    Hmm… it doesn’t seem too long ago that the BBC were ‘seeking’ men to talk about classical music:

    “We’re looking for male experts who’d like to appear on air as contributors to BBC programmes. Find out how to take part in our London event.”
    I have a feeling that it was 2 or 3 years ago but, maybe I am ‘misremembering…?

  12. Peter says:

    If you are a small establishment elite, trying to control the masses, you have to divide them along as many lines as possible. One of the most efficient lines is the gender line between men and women. Just don’t let them coexist peacefully. Tell the women relentlessly how supressed they are, even if they are not. And voila, theses groups go at each other.
    Same with political left and right. Racial divides. etc. etc.
    Easy to do, easy to control 99% of a population, no need to erect an open totalitarian rule. Just divide them.

    1. Bruce says:

      It works on some, not on everyone. Not 99%, I don’t think… but maybe on enough.

      1. Peter says:

        True, based on empirical evidence it works with about 80-90% of our general populations. The remaining minority, who is not so easily manipulated by this ancient dialectical game, can only watch in agony how the sheeple go at each other or alternatively jump collectively off a cliff du jour. Brexit, Trump, just two of the more recent cliffs…
        The Trump cliff jumping was particularly interesting from the mental mass manipulation POV, as the sheeple were fighting fiercely over which cliff to jump, Clinton the other cliff, but an alternative to suicide was not allowed in most minds. Respect to the powerful masters who achieve such.

  13. Emma says:

    Another interesting question would be – will the BBC be paying these women for their expertise, or will it just be for “exposure”?
    Since I understand that the presenters listed above (and their male counterparts) have been outsourced, and are no longer employees but contractors ( a BBC decision, not theirs) perhaps the BBC is looking into how to make programmes without having to pay anyone for their expertise. But maybe I’m too cynical.
    Maybe it is really is just a way of finding new talent, in an under-represented, underpaid, under-listened-to part of society.
    And gentlemen who comment here, you should try listening to the female perspective instead of pretending that sexism or racism doesn’t exist just because you are lucky enough not to experience it. But I imagine its hard to look at something that you don’t want changed because you’re in the fortunate position where you profit from society being weighed in your favour.

    1. Kathleen Ross says:

      Yes, would be interesting to know if they will be positioning the air-time as an “opportunity”, rather than a paid role. Certainly my experience of taking part in two different Radio 3 programmes is that you don’t get paid; the view being that you are promoting your concert or CD. Fair enough, but surely contributors should be remunerated.

      Personally, it doesn’t bother me when an under-represented section of society is offered an opportunity exclusively to them (although I realise a lot of commenters don’t feel that women are under-represented), and I can’t really understand why one would be opposed to it.

    2. Peter says:

      Believe me Emma, there is lots of sexism against men as well these days, which you do not have to experience.
      There is currently more opportunity for women than for men in most fields, by discrimination against men. fact.

      You might very well be close to the truth with the BBC trying to freeload on content creators with this initiative.


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