6 Diane Spivey discusses how conferences raised women's consciousness


One of my favourite, favourite quotes of all from Women in Publishing was from the conference, where we had Julia MacRae talking, because she was one of the only women who had her own named imprint.  Julia MacRae Books was her thing, and surrounded by Hamish Hamilton’s and Victor Gollancz’s and everything else.  It was really, really unusual.

And so she was talking about how she set up.  And then – and she was a lot older than us, and a very sort of mild but professional demeanor – and she was talking about her experience, and somebody in the questions at the end said, ‘Did you feel discriminated against by a lot of these men?’, because she was talking about going into publishing meetings when she was the only woman going into various other, and ‘No,’ she said. ‘I was never really discriminated against’ – and then she suddenly sort of bristled.  She went: ‘But, my God, did they patronise me!’

And you suddenly saw this woman, and I remember talking about it afterwards, saying that she’d looked up and suddenly seen this entire room full of women and just thought, My God, yes, we do have something in common. You know, I thought of myself as being a different generation and here to talk about my life as a professional woman.  But, God yes, we’re all in this together.

And she thought of that as a break through.  And it was really quite a revelatory moment in the Conference as well.  You suddenly saw someone’s consciousness being raised.

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