University of Sussex researcher to discuss exclusion in lives of older lesbians on BBC Radio 4

Paul Gustafson January 15, 2015

A University of Sussex researcher will be appearing on Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’ this Friday, January 16 to discuss the ‘invisibility’ of older lesbians in both academic research and popular culture.


Dr Jane Traies
Dr Jane Traies


Dr Jane Traies, a Research Associate in the School of Media, Film and Music (MFM), spoke to nearly fifty lesbians between the ages of 60 and 90 about their lives and experience as part of her recently concluded PhD at Sussex. Her study was based on the first comprehensive survey of older lesbian life to be undertaken in the UK, analysing data from an unprecedented, large sample of some 400 lesbians over 60.

She found that although these women led “very varied lifestyles”, they recognised a common bond and a strong sense of shared identity based on the experience of having been a stigmatised minority.

Dr Traies work also found that older lesbians are under-represented in academic research, popular culture and the media.

Friday’s programme will include an interview with Dr Traies along with clips from her conversations with older lesbians.

Dr Traies said of her upcoming radio appearance: “I’m particularly excited about this chance to talk about my research to a wider audience, because one of my original intentions in doing this work was to make older lesbians more culturally visible. So the opportunity for their voices to be heard on national radio is just wonderful!”

She added: “The subject is deeply personal to me since I am an ‘older lesbian’ myself (I was 70 last week). I believe this shared identity was one of the things that made it possible for my respondents to trust me with their stories. It also makes me feel very responsible to them – some of the women had not told their story to anyone before.”

Dr Traies plans to use her research findings to campaign for more service provision for older LGBT people.

BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour, Friday, January 16 at 10am.