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Women, work, and the BBC: how wartime restrictions and recruitment woes reshaped the corporation, 1939-45.

Terkanian, K., 2019. Women, work, and the BBC: how wartime restrictions and recruitment woes reshaped the corporation, 1939-45. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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During the Second World War, the BBC developed and grew as an organisation. Suddenly at the centre of communications between a country and its people, and Britain and the world, the BBC concentrated all its efforts into its radio programme streams through its domestic services, Overseas Services Division, and European Services Division. Most research on the British home front references the centrality of BBC radio in the everyday life of the nation. However, apart from a few exceptional studies there has been limited exploration of the BBC as an organisation during the critical war years, and no specific research has been conducted on the role that women played in sustaining the organisation. Women’s working lives during the war have been explored, but only recently has attention been paid to women in white-collar workplaces like the BBC. Prior to the war the BBC, like many similar British organisations, was structurally gendered, although in some areas gender boundaries were more fluid. During the war, the BBC female workforce increased from one third to one half of all BBC staff members. These increases strained existing gendered structures and organisational changes followed. Labour shortages also provided opportunities for women to enter and advance within the Corporation, and the BBC altered their recruitment strategies to meet the crisis. This thesis examines the impact of wartime strains on the BBC as an organisation, and the adaptations needed to keep the Corporation on the air. First, the pre-war Women’s Establishment, a gender-segregated administrative unit, that grew during the early years of the Corporation will be examined alongside the establishment of the marriage bar for women in the 1930s. As both the Women’s Establishment and the marriage bar were casualties of wartime reorganisation, this discussion will examine what part the wartime crisis paid in their demise. The relationship with the government and the restrictions on wartime recruitment will be discussed across three separate parts of the organisation – the Administration Division, the Engineering Division, and the language-dependent Overseas Services and European Services Divisions. Each of these Divisions had differing status with the government due to operational needs and the Ministry of Labour and National Service’s evaluation of the Corporation’s importance to the war effort. Finally, the thesis will examine what special arrangements were made to meet the BBC’s recruitment needs in a difficult labour market, including training and additional support for female staff with families. Examination of these issues will assist in understanding whether reorganisation, recruitment strategies and employment concessions allowed individuals, particularly female staff, greater access to employment and advancement within the Corporation and the long-term effects this had on its organizational structure.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:administration; employment; radio; engineering; citizenship; women
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:31808
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:13 Feb 2019 10:28
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:14


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