Blogger Anna Roberts usually blogs about London but she isn’t from London, plus she is pretty short. Problem?
I have a new idol and she comes in the form of the BBC Breakfast news business reporter, Stephanie McGovern. She’s female, she hails from Middlesbrough and she knows her shit about the business world.
The first two ingredients in the Stephanie McGovern idol recipe are the main reasons why I like her so much. Society suggests being a female and being northern should hold her back in a southern male-dominated industry. But she’s up there every morning telling us in a detailed and confident manner about financial crises in the UK and overseas, for instance. Or questioning corporate CEOs on their policies with intellectual thinking behind her arguments.
I am a girl, I’m a fellow North-Easterner and I should probably know a thing or two about business, after doing a Management degree. I now live in London and I’ve done well in my career so far, a fact of which I’m proud. I want to shout this fact when I get ‘the look’. The look that says a young, 5’3” female with a northern accent doesn’t have anything important to say. I feel like I have to prove my worth in the business world of London and this is wrong.
Yeah, yeah you don’t believe me do you? Well here are some of my favourite quotes- some of which from friends who mean no harm:
“I was surprised your writing is so articulate compared to the way you speak.” (We do learn to read and write in the north, you know!)
“Where are you from? You don’t sound, unintelligent northern.” (So just where is this ‘unintelligent northern’?)
“I love that city. If we could just take it and put it in the south, it’d be so much better.” (I think it’s fine where it is thanks, it doesn’t need to be in the south to survive.)
Upon commenting that I don’t believe in the SAT exams and separating children into different grades so young; “Yeah but you went to school in Durham, it doesn’t matter there.” (Great, so we Durham-ers don’t deserve an education do we not?)
These comments in isolation may not be too offending, but when you are continuously on the receiving end, you start to lose patience and become overly defensive. Defensive to the point where I take any hint of ridicule of the North as a personal insult which then makes me appear uptight… and a bit crazy.
So do I keep quiet and take the comments? Because they were never said to me in a malicious way. Plus, I guess London is the capital city where a lot of the business takes place and I did choose to live here…
Except I am one of those people who can’t accept an unfair society. Discrimination against anything that doesn’t affect how well someone performs in the work place isn’t right. Just because I don’t pronounce my ‘Ts’ when ordering a latte, doesn’t mean I can’t write eloquent copy or make intelligent decisions.
So as my new idol has demonstrated, the tact is to be the best I can be – not as a female or as a northerner; just as a person. Stephanie McGovern has gotten far in her career because, simply, she is good at what she does. So regardless of what some may assume of me, I know I am good at what I do. Maybe I should take it as a compliment when they are pleasantly surprised when they realise this too.
As a fellow short, female Northerner I heartily endorse this article! Very true, sadly. SFN solidarity!