Ingrid Samuelsson, later Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén, was a pioneer in Swedish radio and television. She was an employee of the national radio service from the early 1930s and a producer for national Swedish television in the 1950s, making her one of the few women who produced radio and TV programmes during the introductory years of both services. Her main sphere was consumer journalism.
Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén was born in Uppsala in 1909. Her parents were Sixten Samuelsson, the rector of the Uppsala higher general grammar school, and Ruth. Ingrid Samuelsson was the eldest child of four. From 1954 to 1967 she was married to the journalist and archivist Olof Forsén in Gothenburg, before she became a widow. The couple didn’t have any children.
In the early 1930s Ingrid Samuellson-Forsén trained to be a home economics teacher at the college for home economics in Uppsala. She then worked for a few years at Tyringe boarding school in Hindås, a residential school for girls. During the 1930s the city of Stockholm opened a school for maids where Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén became employed as a teacher. In 1938 she was the school governor. Toward the end of the 1930s Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén was hired by the national radio service to give talks on what was termed “practical matters”. Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén promoted the idea that housework should be streamlined in such a way as to provide women with options to engage in other useful occupations. She thereby put women’s own interests in the spotlight. In Julstöka lagom, 1939, she stated that if men had been househusbands they would certainly have streamlined not only the working conditions but also the tools required. She suggested that buying pre-prepared food was an option instead of making it from scratch oneself. In this way she introduced the idea of the housewife as a consumer.
In the early 1940s Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén sat in for the first formally appointed female radio producer, the literary historian Kerstin Axberger (then Berggren). Now she was no longer just lecturing but also planning and organising programmes, and soon thereafter she started reporting. In 1945 Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén was awarded a stipend to travel to America where she spent six months, during which she studied home economics at Iowa State College. She incorporated what she had learned there in radio programmes once she had returned to Sweden.
Based on the idea of the housewife as consumer and the need to streamline housework, a new radio programme entitled Husmorsskolan came on air in 1949. Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén emphasized in the programme description that women needed to be both encouraged and stirred up. During her time as teacher at the Tyringe boarding school Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén had been influenced by Ester Boman, a progressive pedagogue who brought scientific elements from physics, chemistry and economy into her school classes on cookery. This laid the foundation of the scientific approach to housework evident in Husmorsskolan. One of Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén’s pedagogical contributions was to actively involve the programme listeners. Her colleague Maud Reuterswärd called her a battering ram: arguments and discussions, previously not heard on the radio, now became part of the programme.
When national Swedish television first went on air in 1954 Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén was recruited in order to study programmes concerning consumerism, childcare, general health issues and more. Subsequently, Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén became one of those responsible for household and family programmes. Hemma, presented by Ria Wägner, served as a model for general interest programmes for the whole family until quite recently.
Under Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén’s direction, the scope of household and family programmes was widened. Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén began to use longer segments to highlight issues related to the social status of women. In 1957 the report “Kvinnans två roller” (the two roles of women) was based on a newly-released book by Alva Myrdal and Viola Klein with the same title. In 1960 the report “Sämre lön för samma arbete. Fakta och funderingar kring kvinnolöner” (lower pay for the same job; facts and thoughts on women’s salaries) aired just before negotiations were held that year in which LO and SAF agreed that over the next five years salaries specific to women would be scrapped. The report “Kvinnor i arbetslivet. Fabriksflickan Marianne och hennes 120 000 systrar” (women at work; Marianne the factory girl and her 120,000 sisters), 1961, revealed employers’ views, including that women were particularly suited to monotonous work tasks on conveyor belts. In 1962, in the report called “Alla friar till kvinnan. Fakta och funderingar kring omskolningen för nya arbetsuppgifter” (everyone is proposing to women; facts and thoughts on re-education and new professions) women were encouraged to apply to what was traditionally viewed as male professions, such as courses to become mechanics. A few years later, in 1966, the report ”Vad kvinnan kan och vill och får. Fakta och funderingar om arbetslivet” (what women are capable of doing, want to do and are permitted to do, facts and thoughts on employment) focused on whether the employment market treated men and women equally with regard to their personal situations. The report noted how the employment market was divided according to gender and the two aspects which most women had in common with regard to their professions: they were poorly paid and there were generally few possibilities for promotion. Another 1966 report “Fogliga flickor och tuffa killar. Spekulationer kring ett traditionellt monster, om könsroller hos barn” (docile girls and tough boys, speculations on a traditional pattern, on gender roles among children) was made partly with the help of children, furthering the current debate on gender-specific behaviour.
Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén’s programmes were ahead of their time with regard to the issues concerning women’s status within the family and in the employment market. She made employers’ prejudices toward female workers a matter of public discussion and used her programmes to criticise the view that women formed a single homogenous group.
Ingrid Samuelsson-Forsén died in 1988.