Stephanie Shirley: problems finding an interview panel for a woman

Stephanie Shirley recalls discriminatory promotions policies at the Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill in the 1950s.

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One of the things that happened during that period was that I did get my degree, and therefore really went up for the next bit of promotion, which was to a grade called the Scientific Officer. And that was much more formal because this was a graduate status position, and the assumption was that you would not stay in it, you would go up from Scientific Officer to Senior Scientific Officer, to Principal Scientific Officer, to Senior Principal Scientific – I mean, you know, really that structure of bureaucracy. And I don’t know how I applied, but the way in which interviews were done was that people would put together a panel of four, five, six people who would jointly interview you, so that you came in and took questions from a range of people. And anyway, I was waiting for my panel to be called, and it didn’t come, and it didn’t come, and I thought wasn’t it about time I actually had my interview, and so on. And I discovered that the panel, which was made up by people all over the station and indeed outside, were refusing to serve on the panel, for the honourable reason really that they did not think any woman could do a Scientific Officer job. So they were saying, ‘I’ll never appoint her, no matter what.’ And so they were resigning from the panel. So eventually, there was a big delay, and I did get a panel and then I did get through.

  • Interviewee Stephanie Shirley
  • Duration 00:01:54
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Thomas Lean
  • Date of interview 8/11/2010
  • Shelfmark C1379/28

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