BBC boss told Newsnight's Emily Maitlis she needed to do Strictly for sake of career

There has been concern for a number of years at the lack of women presenting the news

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The Independent Online

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis was told by a BBC manager that she should appear on Strictly Come Dancing to advance her career, she has revealed.

Ms Maitlis told the Mail on Sunday that she had initially thought the advice was a joke but that the man had been serious.

There has been concern for a number of years at the lack of women presenting the news, particularly older women. In 2012, former BBC and ITN newsreader Anna Ford, who last appeared on a BBC One news bulletin in 2006 when she was 62, that little had been done to address the situation.

When asked what the worst thing anyone had said to her was, Ms Maitlis said: “A BBC manager once said that – as a woman – if I wanted my career to go to the next step I would have to do Strictly Come Dancing.

“I thought he was joking. He wasn’t.”

The 45-year-old Cambridge University graduate joined Newsnight in 2006, prompting a male broadcaster to reportedly criticise her appointment, describing her as an “autocutie”.

Ms Maitlis told the National Union of Students last year: “A woman can ask the same question and a man will be called robust and a woman will be called shrill.

“There is still a perception as an interviewer that you have to be politer, you have to know when to stop and I think quite often a man’s good work is recognised much more easily than a woman’s.

“Men are much better at saying ‘look at this, look at this, I did this’ and women wait for other people to notice it.”