This is Angela: the head of Europe Analytica and accessorily the director of the European Publishers Council. I met her coincidentally at a networking reception for media specialists, where I frankly felt a bit lost. The reason why I don’t thrive in networking events is that I tend to get socially awkward when surrounded by people who all seem to know each other and know what to talk about to one another; especially when I myself have no clue what to say. Why, since I was at this event anyway, I decided to make the best out of a quirky situation and went to the table that was nearest the buffet. I was enjoying a gourmet shrimp salad when a lady approached me: – Hey there, do you need a drink? I am going to the bar to get one now!
Damn, this lady is cool! I thought. I found out that this lady was the head of the European Publishers Council, a high level group of individuals leading European media corporations, so I decided to keep her details and later on arrange an interview.
-Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your gender – or felt victim of sexism? I asked her.
‘I am eldest of three: the only girl with two younger brothers, but our parents always tried to raise us in the same, egalitarian way. My mum was a stay-at-home mother and my father was an architect who eventually became an entrepreneur. I have to say that I looked up to my father quite a lot. He had to pay for his studies by himself, which was not an easy path. He was always very encouraging of my achievements. The school I went to as a child, in South London, was a mixed school and it was very egalitarian. I did a lot of music and I played many sports. In fact, I was always a very sporty person; my brothers on the other hand, were not so much! (She laughs)
I guess I simply have the feeling that during most of my life, if not all of it, it never mattered that I was a girl or a boy, as long as I worked hard. I was always expected to do my best just like any other.
So no: I don’t think I’ve ever been discriminated against because I was a woman. At least it never felt like it. It’s a good thing that people nowadays can speak up against misogyny and protest against the unfair treatment of women in our society. I myself have my share of men lurking at me in lifts or making inappropriate comments at meetings, but I never took such incidents personally or felt afraid. I simply think people who use gender as a way to discriminate their peers, are sick. They are weak people who want to behave like bullies. Just tell them to get lost.
Ah, there was one time where I felt pigeon holed a bit, when I was told by my supervisors at school that I could go on further studies to become a teacher – to which I thought, why would they assume that I want to be a teacher? Isn’t it a bit of a cliche? I went to business school instead.
I think I was always taken at face value, I’m quite a good communicator so I think people listen to me quite easily. My granddaughter Jessica is a bit like that so it may simply be in our genes! (She laughs)
She is really unique.’