July 2021

Today in Focus podcast

From the Guardian

From the very beginning of her career as a journalist in the 1980s, Mary Ann Sieghart found herself pushing against a set of assumptions which accorded her less authority than her male peers – and and led to her being viewed as bigheaded if she showed the same ambition and confidence as they did. When she came to write a book about how experiences such as hers still shape women’s lives, she found a huge range of empirical evidence that confirmed the existence of those prejudices. And when she asked some of the most accomplished women in the world – from Bernardine Evaristo to Hillary Clinton – she learned that they had all experienced the same “authority gap”, no matter how remarkable their CVs.

Sieghart speaks to Rachel Humphreys about why the authority gap remains a pervasive phenomenon, and what tactics women can use to try to circumvent it. We also hear excerpts from some of Sieghart’s interviews, featuring examples of the problem perpetrated by everyone from literary prize judges to restaurant staff to … the pope.

About the author

Journalist, author, non-executive director, broadcaster

Mary Ann Sieghart spent 20 years as Assistant Editor and columnist at The Times and won a large following for her columns on politics, economics, feminism, parenthood and life in general. She has presented many programmes on BBC Radio 4, such as Start the Week, Profile, Analysis, Fallout and One to One. She chaired the revival of The Brains Trust on BBC2 and recently spent a year as a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. She has chaired the Social Market Foundation think tank, is a Visiting Professor at King’s College London, and sits on numerous boards.

Read Biography

Mary Ann Sieghart