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A marriage bar of convenience? The BBC and married women's work 1923-39.

Murphy, K., 2014. A marriage bar of convenience? The BBC and married women's work 1923-39. 20th Century British History, 25 (4), 533 - 561.

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BBC Marriage Bar - second revision - final.pdf - Accepted Version
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DOI: 10.1093/tcbh/hwu002


In October 1932 the British Broadcasting Corporation introduced a marriage bar, stemming what had been an enlightened attitude towards married women employees. The policy was in line with the convention of the day; marriage bars were widespread in the inter-war years operating in occupations such as teaching and the civil service and in large companies such as Sainsbury's and ICI. However, once implemented, the BBC displayed an ambivalent attitude towards its marriage bar which had been constructed to allow those married women considered useful to the Corporation to remain on the staff. This article considers why, for its first ten years, the BBC bucked convention and openly employed married women and why, in 1932, it took the decision to introduce a marriage bar, albeit not a full bar, which was not abolished until 1944. It contends that the BBC marriage bar represented a quest for conformity rather than active hostility towards the employment of married women and demonstrates how easily arguments against the acceptability of married women's work could be transgressed, if seen as beneficial to the employer. Overall, the article contemplates how far the BBC's marriage bar reflected inter-war ideology towards the employment of married women.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:employment; history, 20th century; journalism; marital status; spouses; united kingdom; women, working
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:33051
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:18 Nov 2019 14:05
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:18


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