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BBC’s Martha Kearney reveals “horrible and humiliating” sexual harassment as a young reporter

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Susan Devaney
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BBC presenter Martha Kearney has revealed how she was subjected to sexual harassment as a young political reporter in an interview with the Radio Times

Presenter Martha Kearney has shared her own #MeToo story, revealing the “horrible and humiliating” experience of being groped by senior members of staff as a young political reporter during the Eighties.

The Today Programme presenter admitted that she now regrets not confronting the men at the time.

“I wish I’d felt stronger, less intimidated. But in my twenties bosses were powerful people,” Kearney told the Radio Times, rejecting the idea of it being “character-forming”.

Working as a reporter on the radio station LBC, Kearney felt at the time that being subjected to harassment in the workplace was part of the job.

“I didn’t complain. It was the world of work, the rough and tumble of the newsroom. The young women I work with at Today have zero tolerance. I hope #MeToo will make a difference.”

Since the #MeToo movement was sparked last year, from the hashtag to the plethora of powerful stories, the movement has been instrumental in changing the conversation around sexual misconduct in every industry, and in every country.

In the same interview, Kearney also addressed another hot topic: the gender pay gap. After the BBC revealed the pay brackets of its current employees last year, revealing that most of its top earning presenters were men, the broadcaster pledged to close the gap by 2020.

“There was anger and shock when the pay figures came out,” Kearney said.

“Now the BBC is moving in the right direction, but the pace may not be as fast as we’d like.”

Alex Jones, who presents The One Show with Matt Baker, has revealed that the BBC has now addressed the pay disparity between the duo

Kearney took over the Today Programme role from fellow presenter Sarah Montague, months after it was revealed she was earning significantly less than her male co-presenters.

“I’ve done enough stories about equal pay over the years for Woman’s Hour to know about the structural problems there are, and the need to make workplaces more family-friendly and so on, but there’s something else going on, I think it’s unconscious bias at all large organisations,” she said.

“I think we wait and see what happens and whether the BBC makes good on its promises.”

You can monitor the #MeToo movement using Google’s tool, Me Too Rising here.

Images: Getty