BBC apologises for describing Labour councillor as 'working mum'
- Credit: NICKY MASSEY
The BBC has apologised after describing the Labour candidate standing to be Cambridgeshire’s next police and crime commissioner as a “working mum”.
The description, which was criticised by the candidate and others online as “sexist”, appeared in a BBC news article online which listed the candidates for the election in May, with a brief description of each.
Nicky Massey was described as “a working mum who has served on Cambridge City Council since 2018, and as a governor of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge”.
The other two candidates mentioned in the article, who are both men, were described in terms purely related to their professional standing.
The article was amended on Friday and the reference to Cllr Massey as a “working mum” was removed after criticism from the candidate and others online.
A BBC spokesperson said: “We have updated the article and apologised to the councillor.”
Cllr Massey, who serves as the executive councillor for transport and community safety on Cambridge City Council, criticised the BBC’s description of her prior to the change being made.
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She said: “It was disappointing to read that I was being portrayed as something lesser than the other candidates”.
Adding: “Although it’s a fact I am a working mum, it seemed to be an unfair and outdated view as to what the BBC thinks the public needs to know.
“My friends said to me that if they didn’t know me they would read that and see me as the candidate with the least experience – which isn’t the case”.
Cllr Massey said she did not provide the description to the BBC and first found out about it when she received a message from her daughter pointing it out. She said her team then contacted the BBC to “put it right”.
In a post on Facebook she said: “Sorry BBC but what a sexist post. I think there is more to me than saying I am a mother!
“Look at what it says compared to the other candidates. What about my work in community safety and my successes including op Carmel campaign against county lines drugs, cycle crime and domestic abuse!
“It should read: exec councillor of community safety, host of annual domestic abuse conference, domestic abuse campaigner and survivor, work includes partnership policing op Carmel against county line drug dealing, tackling cycle crime, tackling ASB, member of police and crime panel governor of Addenbrookes.”
Cllr Massey told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s this sort of thing that I fought against all my life and makes me more determined now, its sad that women are dismissed in this way.
“It shows the obstacles that women face and why so many are wary of getting involved in politics, but I am determined to speak out for all women and its this sort of issue that drives me forward with even more commitment and passion”.
A number of people commented on the BBC’s description of Cllr Masseey on social media. One person said: “I’m so angry for you and all the women!”.
One person commented: “This has irritated me so much…I mean the phrase “working mother” is not exactly neutral is it? The phrase ‘working father’ doesn’t even exist”.
Another person said they were “shocked”.
The Labour Histon Area Twitter account tweeted: “Hey @BBCCambs have you heard the news? It’s 2021. Long past time to stop defining women as relatives and men by job title”.
An election to decide the next police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is due to be held on May 6.
Rupert Moss-Eccardt is standing for the Liberal Democrats, and Darryl Preston is standing for the Conservatives.