Last night Giselle Ruskin, formerly of Heart FM, came to speak to the Fe-line women of Oxford about her life in the media, redundancy, becoming a mum and her new crafting adventure, Alice Band Wonderland.
It turned out to be a really interesting evening that kick-started some really interesting discussions between the audience and Giselle on all sorts of topics: the gender pay gap, starting your own business, the advantages and disadvantages of social networks and the future of the media.
Giselle started the evening talking us through her life story; how she had started in broadcast journalism and working in the news departments of various radio stations around the UK. She got very far down the journalism route and became quite bored of this in the end. Having a female boss, who saw that she wanted to progress, helped her make the step into presenting radio. Her boss helped her get the presenting job on Heart FM and “breakfast with Matt and Giselle” was born.
The world of radio
Giselle described working in radio as not as glamorous as people think; that, although she was meeting a lot of famous and inspirational people, her body felt in a permanent state of jet lag due to the early mornings and long hours.
She described presenting on radio as male dominated and, although there were a lot of women working in the other departments, presenting was where the men were and where the big pay differences were.
The audience was very keen to know at this point why there was such a pay gap. Some people felt that as women we need to be assertive negotiating pay, when offered a job, and others felt that this is because women presenters are seen as less technically able in areas like radio than men.
When Heart FM decided to merge many of its regional stations, Giselle was made redundant. She described how she had only known 10 days before the show was stopping and how this had a massive effect on her and the radio industry. Being a small close-knit environment, the ripples were felt far and wide.
Two weeks after being made redundant Giselle found out she was pregnant. She described how she had always been massively career minded and had always said: “I’ll have children, but in a couple of years”. She said that stopping the feeling of permanent jet lag allowed her body to become pregnant, whereas before she had always been too stressed.
She had money from her redundancy, and this allowed her time to chill during her pregnancy. She said, this was the most content she had ever felt in her life. She described becoming pregnant as a complete whirlwind, but the best year of her life; and that having Jasmine eclipses anything that she has achieved in her career.
What was refreshing for a lot of the audience, was Giselle going on to say that she wants to be a mum full time. She feels that she has achieved what she wants in her career and gone above and beyond what she expected, and now it’s time to be a mum.
Alice Band Wonderland
Giselle never intended to start her own crafting enterprise, and as her sister (in the audience) said: “she wouldn’t even make a Christmas decoration with me in the past”. But a dilemma arose last Christmas, when baby Jasmine didn’t have a headband to go with her dress. The shops didn’t have any and it was too late to order on the Internet. So Giselle made one! Then she got lots of comments at her baby group and, as a result, was making them for her friends. Now she is selling 150 to 200 a month. She found a gap in the market.
Giselle doesn’t want to do this full-time and sees it as a hobby, but she describes it as a way of ‘making her feel normal’. She also said that it allows her an option in the future, when Jasmine is older, as she feels that her days in radio are over for now and it would be time to do something different.
Last night Giselle’s talk opened up so many different discussion topics. For those of you that couldn’t make it, please let us know what you think about the following by commenting on this blog post:
1. Do you think, as women we need to be more assertive when negotiating pay?
2. Are social networks causing the decline of high quality journalism?
3. Did you think women have to choose ‘career or motherhood’ or is there a ‘happy medium’?