BBC pay: Wendy Austin joins calls for gender equality

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Wendy Austin
Image caption,
BBC Northern Ireland's Wendy Austin said it is "time for change" with equal pay

BBC Northern Ireland presenter Wendy Austin has joined more than 40 other high-profile female journalists and presenters calling for the BBC to act on the gender pay gap.

Presenters such as Victoria Derbyshire and Emily Maitlis signed an open letter to the corporation's director general.

An experienced TV and radio broadcaster, Mrs Austin said she felt "very strongly about" the issue.

She described the pay disparity as "absolutely not good enough in 2017".

The corporation released a list of 96 of its best paid stars last week as part of its annual report.

As well as controversy over the size of some pay packets, the BBC was challenged to justify why two-thirds of the BBC's top earners over £150,000 were men.

Image caption,
Wendy Austin is an experienced and high-profile radio and TV broadcaster

Speaking about the disparity, Wendy Austin said it is not just about the top on-screen earners, but affects every element of the organisation's production.

"There's an Equal Pay Act so I think, possibly naively, the women that signed the letter that I signed had felt for years that equal pay applied to them, but it clearly doesn't," she said.

Man's world?

"The figures that came out last week show that it doesn't and it's time for that to change.

"I have two daughters, and I work with a lot of excellent young male and female colleagues. I want it to be fairer for them than it has been for me."

Asked if it was a man's world, she said: "I think it has been, but I don't think it has to be."

She called on the organisation to take action to improve gender equality before its target date of 2020.

"In all the time I worked in the BBC, both when I was in London and when I came back to work in Belfast again, it was a sort of open secret, that there was a real disparity in pay between the men and the women who worked for the corporation."

"It's an organisation I am very fond of - I've spent virtually all of my working life here. I feel very strongly about it, it is a wonderful company and a fantastic organisation, but I'd like it to be fair."

Stephen Nolan was the only presenter from BBC Northern Ireland to have his salary revealed by the organisation's annual report.

The BBC's director general Tony Hall said that at 10%, the corporation's overall gender pay gap is less than the UK average of 18%.

He said he is committed to closing that gap within the next three years.