BEIJING — One of the BBC’s top journalists, Carrie Gracie, has resigned from her China post over what she called a “secretive and illegal” pay structure that had her male peers making 50 percent more than she did.

In an open letter published Sunday evening, Gracie, who served as China editor, said the public broadcaster faces a “crisis of trust” because it routinely pays men more than women for the same work.

“The BBC belongs to you, the licence fee payer. I believe you have a right to know that it is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure,” she wrote.

Gracie’s resignation comes after the BBC was forced to go public with a list of its highest-paid employees — and the vast majority were men. The disclosures prompted some of the BBC’s biggest stars, including Gracie, to call publicly for pay equity using the hashtag “#BBCWomen.”

The BBC conducted an audit, only to determine there was no gap — a finding Gracie contests.

In the letter, Gracie said the BBC has four international editors, two male and two female. She said she learned last summer that the two men earned at least 50 percent more than the two women.

“Despite the BBC’s public insistence that my appointment demonstrated its commitment to gender equality, and despite my own insistence that equality was a condition of taking up the post, my managers had yet again judged that women’s work was worth much less than men’s,” she wrote.


BBC's China editor, Carrie Gracie, speaks to the media outside BBC Broadcasting House in London on Jan. 8. (Dominic Lipinski/PA/AP)

Gracie asked for parity but did not get it. So she is leaving the China post and returning to the newsroom, where she said she “expects to be paid equally.”

“Enough is enough. The rise of China is one of the biggest stories of our time and one of the hardest to tell. I cannot do it justice while battling my bosses and a byzantine complaints process,” she wrote.

Journalists in Britain and China applauded her and expressed solidarity using the hashtag “#IStandWithCarrie.”

Gracie closed her letter by calling on all companies — not just the BBC — to pay women what they are worth.

“We are by no means the only workplace with hidden pay discrimination and the pressure for transparency is only growing. I hope rival news organisations will not use this letter as a stick with which to beat the BBC, but instead reflect on their own equality issues,” she wrote.

“It is a century since women first won the right to vote in Britain. Let us honour that brave generation by making this the year we win equal pay.”

Read more:

Iceland is trying to close the gender pay gap by publicly shaming companies

Xi Jinping and six other men will rule China, but women are left behind

An ‘E! News’ anchor found out she earns half what her male co-host makes. So she quit.