The Authority Gap: Why women still aren't taken seriously
Journalist Mary Ann Sieghart explains why so often women are presumed to be less capable than men.
When Mary Ann Sieghart set out to document the ways that women are held back by a cultural presumption of their inferiority, she found reams of data to support her case – and heard stories of how it affects even the most successful women in the world. She calls this the authority gap and asks what we can do about it.
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.
Listen to the interview here: