Director of BBC Radio Helen Boaden has welcomed a new BBC mentoring scheme for women who work in radio production at the Corporation.
The BBC Radio Mentoring Scheme will offer 20 women the chance to be mentored by experienced radio production staff, in order to build their experience with the ultimate aim of increasing the number of women in senior roles in the radio industry.
The scheme starts in January 2016 and is a joint venture between the BBC and Sound Women, building on the scheme that Sound Women ran in local radio last year. It will be targeted at women working in BBC Radio in all roles – on air and off – and working anywhere in network, local, nations and news.
One of the mentorships in local radio will be named after Sandy Chalmers, the former editor of Woman’s Hour and the first woman to manage a BBC local radio station, who died earlier this year aged 74.
Helen Boaden said: “This is a great opportunity for the talented women behind the BBC’s fantastic radio content. We know the benefits that come from mentoring including creating access, developing confidence, learning from expertise and experience, and releasing and developing potential.
“The scheme builds on some very successful projects that have delivered real change to the representation of women on air and I hope this will do the same for production.”
The new mentoring scheme builds on a number of measures that the BBC is pursuing to increase the representation of women on-air in radio.
More than half (51 per cent) of BBC local radio breakfast shows now have a female presenter in the team, compared to 20 per cent in 2013.
Two women on the Local Radio Mentoring Scheme, which saw female presenters in local radio mentored by high-profile BBC broadcasters including Kirsty Young, Jenni Murray and Victoria Derbyshire, have secured new high-profile shows. Ali Butterworth moved from her late show on Radio Manchester to breakfast and Kat Orman swapped afternoons for mornings on Radio Oxford.
The Women in Radio project, to find new female presenters, attracted 3,000 applicants, 90 of whom were selected to attend events where they had the opportunity to network with and meet local radio presenters and senior executives from the BBC, with meet-the-expert sessions – and to take part in workshops on interviewing and presenting. Of those women trained, two have secured long-term contracts at the BBC, including Lilley Mitchell, who went straight into a regular presenting slot on BBC Oxford’s breakfast show. A number of the other participants have since appeared on local radio as contributors or presenters.
And the BBC Academy’s Expert Women programme, an initiative to broaden the base of female contributor voices on air right across the industry, trained 164 women as on-air contributors in their field. In total, 73 of the women have made 374 appearances on TV and radio worldwide.