3 Miranda Harrison discusses how WiP served as a forum for asking questions women couldn't ask elsewhere
Well because there was a clear gender gap obviously it was talked about socially and it would come up in speaker meetings. You might have a speaker talking about the fact that their head of editorial at Random or wherever. And because it was a current topic, it might well have been a question from the audience, people saying, you know, ‘How do you feel as a woman who has broken through that glass ceiling, or what did you do, what do you have to put up with, did you have opposition?’
We would ask and be invited to ask those kind of questions, so you that had a forum where you could ask questions which you actually couldn’t ask in your company, in your own professional life. You could actually ask quite pertinent politically-orientated, gender-orientated questions at WiP.
Questions about how you as women might increase your salary?
Yes, yes, and profile and general standing. And what’s extraordinary is that it can sound so extreme and then you get reminded that it really isn’t. I had a job in the early 2000s where it was quite clear that the head of finance, the male head of finance had no idea what editorial was, and basically spoke to us as if we were women in the typing pool, which would be his language. Because he was ancient [laughs]. I think he was incredibly dismissive and incredibly patronising and we were all just a bunch of silly women, complaining every time we complained about things, like not having enough staff etc. etc.
And that was early 2000s. So in my career, there have been lots of moments where I’ve been pulled up short and thought, and been reminded that there are still some fairly unhealthy attitudes. And I wouldn’t for one minute think it’s all sorted now