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BBC journalist Ena Miller says women need more role models in the media

Emma Burrows from Google says she is outnumbered by men in her tech career

14 March, 2017 — By Richard Osley

Ena Miller speaking in Camden Town

YOUNG women were urged not to give up on their ambitions to find careers in the male-dominated media and creative industries as a BBC journalist told how she had made her breakthrough.

Ena Miller, who works for BBC South East and on Woman’s Hour, was speaking at a discussion during a day of events to mark International Women’s Day at Arlington House conference centre in Camden Town.

She said the lack of role models had been off-putting as Moira Stewart seemed to be the only black woman in television news when she was growing up.

“Nobody in my family was a journalist, none of my friends are – my family wondered why I wanted to be a journalist, so I never became a journalist until I was 32 and went back to university,” said Ms Miller.

She said barriers to progress had included having to work for free at the start of a career in journalism and self-doubt. “Sometimes I find in the media, one department you’ve been working in might not rate you much, but another department, like when I’m working for Women’s Hour, might say, ‘great report, great report’,” she said. “You are sitting there thinking, why is this happening when I’m giving all my time to one department which doesn’t seem to appreciate my ideas when another department is saying ‘we want more, we want more’. What do you do? You leave the department that doesn’t appreciate you. A lot of people want to stay, a lot of people want to break that ceiling. Why bother? There are lots of other people who will appreciate you.”

Other speakers to an audience of women and pupils from Camden schools included council leader Sarah Hayward and Emma Burrows who works at Google, who also said there were too few role models for women in industries in which men are dominating the workforce.

“Up until this year I haven’t had a single role model once in my entire tech career, and the consequence of that is that it shapes the way you communicate, the way you think,” Ms Burrows said. “I’ve been called over-emotional, I’ve been called bossy, and all of those things, and it’s a learning experiment to stick with who you are but also to adapt sufficiently to feel comfortable in that environment.”

Cllr Hayward said: “There are lots of massive other cultural institutions who have never had a woman boss. It’s not because women don’t know about running big organisations or being creative, or doing fabulous artistic things, it’s about structural barriers there are to women succeeding.”

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