WHAT a week it has been for us women. Not only was Zoe Ball revealed as the first female host of the Radio 2 breakfast show, but Jodie Whittaker, the cover star of today’s Weekend magazine, will take over as the 13th incarnation of Dr Who tomorrow – the first female in the role in the show’s 55-year history.

Ball’s appointment means that four of the BBC’s six music radio stations will have a female breakfast show host in the New Year. Does this mean women are finally breaking through into some of the traditional male strangleholds of the national entertainment scene? Probably.

However, it is believed that Ball will be paid considerably less than the £1.6m salary of her predecessor Chris Evans. Setting aside the fact that is a ridiculous amount of public money to spend on one individual, no matter how talented they are, why is Evans worth it, but Ball not? She is every bit as talented as he is and arguably has a similar profile, having previously (and infamously) hosted the breakfast show on Radio 1 in the 1990s.

One of the first questions put to Whittaker when her role as the Time Lord was announced was about her pay. She left reporters in no doubt that she was not picking up a lower salary than Peter Capaldi, the 12th Doctor. “I absolutely know I am not being paid less than any other Doctor,” said Whittaker. “It is not the show to set that standard.”

Should women just be grateful to get a chance at the top jobs and not question whether their salary is fair? Absolutely not. But there also needs to be a common sense element thrown into the mix when comparing past and present jobs which are not truly like for like – and taking into account the current financial position of a business or organisation to make a realistic pay demand.

While clearly it was not about to attract quite the same level of attention as the new jobs for Ball and Whittaker, my appointment as editor of The Northern Echo was a first for a woman as well. Answering questions about this early on made me feel distinctly uncomfortable – not because I’m not proud, but because it feels slightly strange that it has taken 148 years for a female to be in the hotseat.

Being a newspaper editor is a bit different to acting in a show about a time travelling extraterrestrial with a magic screwdriver, but Whittaker was right when she said the true sign of progress will be when it’s not remarkable at all to be a woman taking on a traditionally male role. “When it’s not celebrated, it will mean it’s no longer unusual to have this sort of parity,” she said. Hear hear.

YOU had to feel for Cllr Mary Dalton, mayor of Great Aycliffe as she carried out the official launch of the new Bargain Buys store in Newton Aycliffe yesterday. As scores of people lined up amid all the razzmatazz of a West End production, she cut the ribbon to declare the shop open. Or at least she tried to. Her giant comedy scissors proved worse than useless, and an employee had to whizz over and do the honours. The mayor, a true professional, didn’t even flinch. After all, the show must go on.