Aussie newsreader and journalist Tracey Spicer refuses to take discrimination laying down. In fact, Spicer has been actively loud and resounding about revealing discrimination she has encountered throughout her career.
She’s written a book about her experiences, not to name and shame, but in a bid to shed light on sexism within not only her industry, but other workplaces where traditionally men were valued and women were seen to be somewhat tokenistic.
The back of her book reads: ‘racey Spicer was always the good girl. Inspired by Jana Wendt, this bogan from Brisbane backwaters waded through the ‘cruel and shallow money trench’ of television to land a dream role — national news anchor for a commercial network.
“But this journalist found that, for women, TV was less about news and more about helmet hair, masses of makeup and fatuous fashion, in an era when bosses told you to ‘stick your tits out’, ‘lose two inches off your arse’ and ‘quit before you’re too long in the tooth’,” she wrote.
Speaking to HuffPost Australia’s editor-at-large Lisa Wilkinson, Spicer explained that she was sacked when returning from maternity leave with her second child.
“Because I have been in the media for 30 years, when I started out I saw a lot of other women being given ‘going away’ parties when they left to have their children. It wasn’t a maternity leave party, or ‘see you after your leave’. It was ‘you’re leaving the industry, you’re not able to come back after you’re not seen as sexy or slim, you’re now seen as a daggy old mummy’.”
“After I had my first child I sort of knew the writing was on the wall — I had to take five months off instead of the usual TV ‘couple of months’ because I had a life threatening pregnancy complication. When I tried to come back from my first child I was told I was going to be given a less powerful, lesser paid role with insecure hours and changed conditions. I was told that explicitly by the news director at the time,” Spicer said.
Watch the whole interview here
“I knew what was coming because of what had happened to all of my female colleagues and friends when they had gone off to have children. So, I confronted him with state and federal legislation and union regulations and told him that what he was trying to doing was illegal and immoral and that I would take him to court.
“That sounds cool now, but I was terrified. I got my job back because I went up to HR and said what he was trying to do was illegal. I was very proud of myself, but I knew there’d be a black mark against my name.
“When I came back from maternity leave with my second child I was terminated not long after. I was 37 when it happened,” Spicer said.
When this happened to Spicer in 2006 she sued Channel 10 for discrimination and settled out of court, before returning to on-air broadcasting.
“I think times have definitely changed. Things are much better now and women are more valued for their brains and their ability rather than just their appearance, which was true in the past — for many decades.”
Spicer believes strongly in the importance of mentioning young women within their industries. In media, she’s a big advocate for diversity on camera.
“I had a look to see if there was any robust studies done into what the audiences wanted to see on camera. I wanted to know whether they wanted to see young, attractive women and older men with gravitas and grey hair, which is always the way it was up until about 10 years ago. The research by the BBC in the last couple of years has shown the exact opposite.
“People want to see more diversity onwant to see older women, they want to see bigger women, they want to see people of different cultural backgrounds, they want to see people of differing abilities. They want to see transgender people on camera. They want to see reflections of themselves,” Spicer said.
Lisa also made references to Spicer’s TEDx Talk, which inspired the cover art of her book. You can watch that below.