You are here

  1. Home
  2. New OU/BBC series ‘The Women Who Changed Modern Scotland’ reveals how pioneering women have transformed Scotland

New OU/BBC series ‘The Women Who Changed Modern Scotland’ reveals how pioneering women have transformed Scotland

OU/BBC co-production The Women Who Changed Modern Scotland, supported by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, broadcasts weekly on BBC Scotland at 22:00 from 21 February in the run up to International Women’s Day, and is available on iPlayer from 8 March.

The three-part series, presented by Kirsty Wark, reveals how pioneering women since the 1960s have surged forward to disrupt the status quo, and transformed Scotland itself in the process. From Shetland to Shettleston, women have shaped modern Scotland – its laws, culture, and imagination – often facing hostility, sexism and abuse along the way. Yet, over time, their stories have frequently been written out of history or forgotten.

The series sees Kirsty meet women who made the headlines and those whose day-to-day activities at work or within their communities transformed the lives of women, men and children. In the first episode, The Disruptors, she meets those women who, in the 1960s and 70s, challenged the laws, political systems and social norms that still favoured men, when most power structures had men in suits at the top. The second episode, Having It All, explores the 1980s and 90s – a time of contrasts and contradictions for Scotland’s women, whereby legislative leaps enshrined new rights, many glass ceilings were smashed, and women were told that it was possible to ‘have it all’, but everyday sexism and domestic violence remained rife, and the burden of domestic labour continued to fall on women. The final episode, Breakthroughs and Backlash, explores the devolution era and discovers what happens when women take the lead and take control in politics, in communities, and in the workplace. WIth many breakthroughs to celebrate, such breakthroughs have frequently been accompanied by a backlash, with women facing new forms of hostility, including threats and abuse and the manipulation of new technologies to coerce and control.

Dr Helen O’Shea, Lecturer in History, was an academic consultant for the series. She highlights that “this series is an important contribution to help avoid the potential pitfall of complacency by raising the visibility of what women have had to fight - and are still fighting - for.

“Struggle is a prominent theme of the series where we meet women who fought hard to change the systems and structures that were holding women back. But, as the series underscores, this new prominence comes at a cost as women are now encountering new forms of hostility on social media and beyond.”

Helen was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland’s Kaye Adams Programme on 22 February with actress and comedienne Elaine C Smith, who appears in the series.

Extra interviews with some of Scotland's most influential women in politics can be viewed on OU Connect.

View the BBC Scotland website for futher details about the series.

Request your prospectus

Request a prospectus icon

Explore our qualifications and courses by requesting one of our prospectuses today.

Request prospectus

Are you already an OU student?

Go to StudentHome