The Trouble With Working Women – Why Can’t A Woman Succeed Like A Man

Newsreader and mum of three Sophie Raworth teams up with father of three Justin Rowlatt to explore the thorny issue of what people really think of women at work, in this provocative, new, two-part series.

Nearly 40 years on from the Equal Pay Act, why is it that men still dominate the top jobs and why do men, on average, earn £369,000 more than a woman across their career?

In a competitive mood from the off, Sophie and Justin conduct a series of tests, experiments and brain scans and meet people such as Harriet Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader; multi-millionaire lingerie magnate Michelle Moan; and an armed female officer at the Metropolitan Police’s firing range.

A video pod tours the country, meanwhile, to hear from the nation, and reveals what men and women really think of each other.

In today’s opener, Sophie and Justin want to find out why so few women make it to the top. Is it sexism, the practicalities of family life or biology? And, crucially, is the notion women can have it all – a successful career and a family – myth or reality?

Justin takes on former air hostess-turned-small-business woman Sylvia Tidy Harris, who thinks women with children are bad for her business and chooses not to employ women of child-bearing age. She believes this is legal – so long as she doesn’t advertise when she recruits new employees.

When it comes to biology, Justin tries to prove the theory of evolutionary psychology – that boys are hard-wired for success. To Sophie’s delight, however, his test fails. In round two, they go head to head on a trading floor to see if hormones might explain why the city is so male-dominated. Once again, Sophie has a surprise for Justin.

Perhaps the most surprising meeting is with Erin Pizzey, the founder of the women’s refuge movement. She’s spent her life working and fighting for equality but has come to a frightening conclusion. It seems she believes the idea of having it all is a dangerous myth.

But there are women who do seem to have it all. Cambridge Fellow Rosanna Omitowoju has four young children, a happy marriage, a full-time, full-on job and no outside help. Despite the 5am starts, juggling career and children is definitely the right thing for her.

The series also features specially commissioned surveys that throw new light on the debate. There are plenty of arguments along the way, but Sophie and Justin eventually manage to reach a conclusion.

Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 May
9.00-10.00pm BBC TWO