On Wednesday, the BBC released its top earners' salaries. The list was unprecedented; it was the first time the network revealed who earns what after the U.K. government ordered the company to be transparent about employees' salaries. But one thing about the list was not shocking: The salaries show a huge gender wage gap at the BBC.
The highest paid woman at the company is Claudia Winkleman, the host of Strictly Come Dancing. She earned at least £450,000 in the last fiscal year, making Winkleman the seventh-highest paid presenter at the BBC. But of the 20 highest paid presenters, only five are women.
That didn’t sit right with BBC presenter Mishal Husain. And because the BBC is funded by U.K. taxpayers, Husain actually got to interview BBC's director general, Lord Tony Hall, on air during the Today radio show. Oh, and by the way, Husain makes at least £400,000 less than her co-host, John Humphrys, according to the published list. Yup, it was just as awkward as it sounds.
When Husain asked about the gender pay gap, Hall dodged the question, instead focusing on how many female presenters BBC has. He responded, “When I came back to the BBC, I said I wanted to get a balance between men and women presenting programs like this program… This is something I believe very, very strongly in.”
Hall said he hoped to close the gender pay gap by 2020. But when it came to explaining how he planned to do it, he didn't have a precise answer. “We have to manage, as we do, within our means,” he told Husain.
Husain then asked the question many wanted answered: “Does that mean you’re going to be asking the men to take a pay cut?”
Once again, Hall skirted around an answer, returning to his commitment to hiring more female presenters. Throughout the interview, Hall seemed to equate putting women on the air with paying them fairly and equally. Husain wasn’t the only one who questioned Hall’s answers, either. People took to Twitter to back her up.
Hopefully the BBC will take real steps toward closing its gender wage gap. Until then, at least we have tough, no-nonsense reporters like Husain asking the important questions.