Tracey Spicer on ‘not being hot enough’ for TV after having kids
Tracey Spicer is a journalist and mum to two children, and knows all too well what can happen when you come back from maternity leave.
She was told via email that her contract would not be renewed and believes that it’s because she wasn’t ‘hot enough’ for television.
“The problem is, I’m not hot enough. Once you’re past your use-by date, especially if you commit the crime of having kids, that’s the end of it,” she detailed in her book The Good Girl Stripped Bare.
An email was all she got to let her know she was done
In November 2016 Tracey was at work reporting on raging bushfires and in a stream of emails from residents concerned about the fire and desperate for information she found an email from her manager – the head of news – who sat across the room from her.
The email was to let her know her services were no longer needed.
“More than a dozen years at the network, yet – apparently – I don’t deserve being told to my face. What a bloody coward,” she wrote.
Tracey asked her manager if they could talk about it face to face because it was awkward sitting across the room from him and was advised to ‘keep it civil’.
“Is it anything to do with the fact I’ve had children?”
“Come on in. I guess you’ve read the email,” he said as she walked into his office.
“Yes, but I don’t understand why. There’ve been no warnings. The ratings are the same. Actually, they’re a bit higher since I came back, which is nice,” she said.
He explained they were designing a new look the following year and they were satisfied with most of their on-air line-up.
“Except for me. Is it anything to do with the fact I’ve had children?” she quipped back.
But instead, she was told she could land some casual radio work that would fit around her life as a mum to her two children.
“As a favour, I’ll make this as dignified as possible for you”.
Tracey then went for another meeting with the ‘big boss,’ who told her that the decision had already been made.
“As a favour, I’ll make this as dignified as possible for you. We’ll draft a press release saying you’re choosing to leave for family reasons. Spend more time with the kids and what-not. You can throw in a couple of quotes, then leave here with your head held high,” she recalled.
It was at this point that she decided to fight for women everywhere facing the same treatment from bosses after having children and returning to work from maternity leave.
Tracey wasn’t going to let this slide and fought back
The seasoned journalist and presenter fought hard. She had a team of supportive friends around who helped her fight and a lawyer who was willing to take on the case.
She didn’t care if she was branded a troublemaker for standing up for herself and took the discrimination case to the high court.
Once momentum started to gather around her case she was bombarded with emails from women who had been in the exact same position.
Tracey settled out of court but paved the way for other women in the industry and those facing similar discrimination.