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This chapter analyses the relationship between women and the Association of Cinematograph, Television and Allied Technicians (ACTT) between 1960 and 1975 to identify the catalysts for the establishment of the Committee on Equality (COE) in 1973 and the demand for an investigation into gender discrimination in the film and television industries, which culminated in the publication of the Patterns of Discrimination Against Women in the Film and Television Industries report in 1975. Firstly, this chapter considers whether the ‘roots’ of women’s militancy evident in the labour movement during the 1960s (Boston, 2015) can be identified within the ACTT between 1960 and 1968. Secondly, this chapter argues that the emergence of the New Left and women’s liberation movement and industrial militancy in Britain between 1968 and 1973 encouraged women to challenge the gendered union structure of the ACTT. This section particularly highlights the significance of the London Women’s Film Group to women’s activity within the ACTT. Finally, this chapter investigates the activity of the COE between 1973 and 1975, considering: the demands advanced by women activists at the ACTT’s 1973 Annual Conference, the logistics of the investigation, the obstacles to women’s activity, and the function of women’s separate self-organisation.
The final chapter draws together the key conclusions advanced within this book in relation to its three central themes: the operation of the gendered union structure, women’s union activism, and the relationship between class and gender in the labour movement. Firstly, it argues that a gendered union structure was institutionalised from the union’s establishment and maintained through a belief system that women’s issues were not trade union issues. Secondly, it argues that separate self-organisation was essential to women’s activity within the gendered union structure as it provided an essential space and voice for women to discuss their gender-specific concerns, develop consciousness and skills and formulate policy. It further emphasises the importance of external feminist allies to women’s union activity. Thirdly, it argues that class differences between middle-class women in film and television production and working-class women in the laboratories informed the direction of women’s activity at its height during the 1970s and 1980s. This chapter then surveys the central arguments advanced in each chapter to illustrate these core conclusions. It concludes with a consideration of the practical implications of this research for campaigns against gender discrimination within the British labour movement and the film and television industries.
This chapter establishes the original contribution of the book by addressing why this research is necessary, where it sits within the existing literature and how this research has been conducted. Firstly, this chapter illustrates the timeliness of the book with reference to women’s renewed activism against sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the film and television industries and in the trade union movement. Secondly, this chapter explains the rationale for its focus and establishes the three central themes which underpin the book’s analysis of the relationship between women and trade unions in the British film and television industries: the operation of a gendered union structure, women’s union activism, and the relationship between class and gender in the labour movement. Thirdly, this chapter surveys existing literature in the fields of Women’s Labour History, Industrial Relations Scholarship and Women’s Film and Television History. Fourthly, this chapter details the methodological approach of this project, which combines archival research with oral history. Finally, this chapter outlines the structure of the book.
This chapter investigates Gillian Skirrow’s assertion that the Patterns report remained ‘regrettably up-to-date’ by 1981, six years after its publication (1981: 94). It argues that the relationship between women and the ACTT was characterised by inertia between 1975 and 1981. This chapter identifies the reasons for slow progress around the implementation of the recommendations of the Patterns report and considers its impact on women’s activity. Firstly, it argues that the ACTT’s gendered union structure operated to inhibit the implementation of the report’s recommendations, demonstrated by limited engagement with the report among rank-and-file members and the reluctance of male union officials to negotiate around its recommendations. Secondly, this chapter argues that the Committee on Equality was detached from the formal union structure, limiting its power to influence policy and restricting women’s activity. This chapter then traces women’s growing frustration with the ACTT’s inactivity from 1980 onwards, culminating in the demand for a women’s conference. In doing so, it illustrates the influence of external feminist campaigns in the late 1970s. Finally, this chapter outlines the demands of the ACTT’s first Women’s Conference in 1981, which called for the formalisation of women’s representation within the union structure.
This chapter analyses the methods of formalisation introduced by the ACTT during the 1980s: the appointment of a full-time Equality Officer in the ACTT’s Head Office; the establishment of a network of local Equality Representatives; the introduction of an annual women’s conference; and the increased visibility of women’s activity in union publications. This chapter establishes a narrative of continuity and change in the relationship between women and the ACTT in its exploration of structural gains achieved within the union and stasis in the pattern of women’s employment in the film and television industries. Firstly, this chapter contextualises the formalisation of women’s representation in the ACTT in relation to Margaret Thatcher’s anti-union legislation and the deregulation of the film and television industries. Secondly, this chapter considers each method of formalisation to argue that these new structures established a network of women activists which coordinated women’s activity, facilitated the formulation of policy, and advanced women’s demands at all levels of the union’s structure. Thirdly, this chapter argues that women’s demands continued to encounter hostility and apathy from the ACTT’s male officials and rank-and-file membership, which inhibited the translation of women’s political gains in the union into material gains in the workforce.
This chapter explores the relationship between women and the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) between 1991 and 2017, following the ACTT’s amalgamation with the Broadcasting and Entertainment Trades Alliance (BETA). This chapter examines the impact of amalgamation on women’s representation and union participation. Firstly, this chapter traces the deterioration of women’s structural gains in the 1990s, as BECTU’s financial crisis resulted in the abandonment of annual women’s conferences, the Women Members’ Committee was submerged into the General Equality Committee, and the Equality Officer role was diluted until it ceased to exist altogether in 1999. Secondly, this chapter examines BECTU’s renewed commitment to women’s representation in the 2000s, signalled by the reintroduction of annual women’s conferences. It argues that these conferences were integral to the union’s recruitment and retainment strategy, and so lacked the militancy of the 1980s women’s conferences. However, women’s separate self-organisation again raised the profile of women’s demands within the union and facilitated women’s activity. This chapter further explores the challenges of organising intersectional union activism during the 1990s and 2000s. Finally, the chapter reflects upon the election and activity of BECTU’s first woman president, Christine Bond (2010-2014).
This chapter examines the relationship between women and the Association of Cine-Technicians (ACT) in the first three decades of the union’s history, between 1933 and 1959, to argue that a profoundly gendered union structure was institutionalised during the ACT’s establishment and formative years. Firstly, this chapter examines the process of unionisation within the British film industry to demonstrate that men’s interests were prioritised and women’s interests were excluded by this process. Secondly, this chapter reflects upon the consolidation of the ACT’s power in the film industry and its gendered union structure during the Second World War. It argues that the ACT introduced agreements and adopted organisational practices which safeguarded men’s jobs in response to the influx of women workers into the film industry during the war. Thirdly, it examines debates around which technicians should be represented among ACT’s membership in the post-war period, including the union’s response to the growth of the commercial television industry in the 1950s. This chapter also surveys women’s activity in the ACT between 1933 and 1959 to consider the evidence for a feminist consciousness among women activists in the decades between Britain’s first and second-wave feminist movements.
Frances C. Galt explores the role of trade unions and women’s activism in the British film and television industries in this important contribution to debates around gender inequality.
The book traces the influence of the union for technicians and other behind-the-camera workers and examines the relationship between gender and class in the labour movement. Drawing on previously unseen archival material and oral history interviews with activists, it casts new light on women’s experiences of union participation and feminism over nine decades. As concerns about the gender pay gap, women’s rights and harassment continue, it assesses historical progress and points the way to further change in film and TV.
After a long struggle, women got the right to vote in the aftermath of the First World War. The process of integrating them into political life, however, was not immediately straightforward. The Representation of the People Act 1918 enfranchised approximately seven million women over the age of thirty, or women over twenty-one who were householders (or married to one). However, in an oversight that reveals much about the role women were still expected to play in British society, the legislation failed to address whether women would be allowed to stand for election to parliament (Cowman, 2010). This ambiguity gave long-time campaigners for women’s political rights an opportunity. Several women, such as Christabel Pankhurst, forced the issue of women standing for election by submitting nomination papers regardless. Eventually, a bill was introduced to settle the matter, which resulted in the rushed Eligibility of Women Act 1918 (Beddoe, 1989) that allowed women to stand for election on equal terms with men. This new legislation, therefore, meant that women could be elected members of a parliament nine years before they were eligible to vote for it (Cowman, 2010), highlighting the absurdity of the rationale for denying women the right to vote as men did in the first place.
Since the bill only became law three weeks before the election, women candidates had little time to find a seat, let alone one that was winnable. As a result, only one woman was elected in the 1918 general election.
It took until 1979 for a woman to lead a major political party into a British general election. Since then, an uptick in the number of female leaders offers a chance to assess the way women party leaders are represented in newspaper coverage. Since Margaret Thatcher’s first campaign as Conservative Party leader in 1979, there have been five campaigns in which women leaders have been the subject of press attention. This chapter will therefore focus on these five elections. For the first three, 1979, 1983, and 1987, Margaret Thatcher was the only female leader. In the 2015 and 2017 campaigns, multiple women leaders were visible in the news, including the Conservative’s Theresa May (2017), the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett (2015) and Caroline Lucas (2017), Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood (2015 and 2017), and the Scottish National Party’s (and first minister of Scotland) Nicola Sturgeon (2015 and 2017). Of these elections, three were contested by female prime ministers (1983, 1987, and 2017). While the 2010 election was contested by a female party leader (Caroline Lucas, Green Party), this campaign could not be included because she did not appear in the sampled newspaper coverage.
Given that party leaders have a much higher public profile than their female colleagues, it would be significant if this effects how they are reported on in gendered terms. There is some evidence suggesting that as women in Australia and Canada become increasingly prominent, news coverage about them is less likely to centre their gender identity (Trimble et al, 2019).