Sunday 25 August 2019

Drivetime presenter Mary Wilson questions RTE management over gender pay gap

Mary Wilson
Pic: Mark Condren
Mary Wilson RTE Pic: Mark Condren

Mary McDonnell

VETERAN broadcaster, Mary Wilson has questioned RTE management for green-lighting an “enormous” pay gap that emerged between former Six One News anchors Sharon Ni Bheolain and Bryan Dobson.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Sunday Business Post, the journalist who has presented RTE Radio One’s Drivetime for over a decade, revealed she is “very proud” of Ms Ni Bheolain for speaking up.

She told the newspaper: “How did that happen? That nobody ever looked at two people sitting side by side in the same studio for years. They do equal work. They go out on equal assignments. They both do the Dáil questions in the mornings. They do live broadcasts - and yet this enormous disparity, extraordinary. I hope it’s being corrected.”

The Sunday Independent revealed in July that Mr Dobson earned an extra €60,000 to €80,000 a year more than his co-anchor, according to RTE’s 2014 figures.

Responding to the newspaper’s revelations at the time, Ms Ni Bheolain said the pay gap had narrowed since 2014 but she still earned “considerably less” money compared to her co-anchor.

The revelations came in the wake of an outcry over glaring wage disparities between high-earning men and women at the BBC. A pay list of top earners, household names in radio and TV, revealed that the corporation’s top seven highest paid stars were all men.

Ms Wilson said that while RTE has changed significantly since she started her career in the 1980’s, Ireland still doesn’t have enough women on air.

She told the Sunday Business Post: “At that time, in the mid-80s, late 80s, there weren’t that many female voices on radio. There are still not enough.”

She also revealed she never thought she would land a dream job with the national broadcaster but has criticised early advice from men, mostly, who told her she’d succeed in radio because her voice was low so she “didn’t sound too much like a woman”.

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