“Analytical chemist, naval architect, chauffeuse … professional women and BBC women’s programmes 1923-1968”

Authors: Murphy, K.

Conference: Women's History Network

Dates: 6-7 September 2019


In May 1923, the fledgling BBC launched the first daily programme to be aimed at its female audience, the short-lived ‘Women’s Hour’ (not to be confused with the later ‘Woman’s Hour’). A popular feature was talks on careers: museum curator, almoner, optician, solicitor, athletics organiser were amongst the newly possible professions that were discussed. By the 1930s, women politicians, police officers and child care workers were talking about their working day. During the Second World War, welfare supervisors, naval architects, photographers and life insurance underwriters were lauded as novel female jobs while professional work for women would become a mainstay of ‘Woman’s Hour’, launched in 1946. This paper will reflect on how the BBC’s programmes for women portrayed professional women over a period of forty-five years. What can this tell us about the changing nature of women’s working lives?

Source: Manual