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21st Century Women: Ruby Wax, Noreena Hertz and Victoria Derbyshire

22nd June 2011

As American businesswoman Martha Stewart calls for women to be paid higher salaries if companies want to exude greater creativity and diversity, the Sunday Times publishes a list of some of the most influential 21st Century Women, including three of Speakers Corner’s elite - Ruby Wax, Noreena Hertz and Victoria Derbyshire.

Ruby Wax jokes that if a woman earns £350,000 a year, that’s £857,000 in man money.

“We still have a problem with difference in earnings between men and women. The problem is that women get thrown out (of showbusiness) much earlier, whereas men can look like elephant’s testicles and they’ll still be in demand.”

Although she feels there is still work to be done, Ruby believes there has been some progress in the last few years.

“In my lifetime I’ve gone from seeing women being supported by men to women supporting themselves.”

Professor Noreena Hertz feels more optimistic about gender equality.

“There has been a whole slew of legislative advances for women in my lifetime, from the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act, which made it illegal to discriminate against women in employment or education, to the breakthrough Employment Protection Act, making it unfair to dismiss a woman for pregnancy.

Unfortunately in academia women still only make up 17% of professors – and in my area – economics and business – that number falls to single digits.”

Radio presenter Victoria Derbyshire grew up with a violent father and feels confident that progress made by the police, charities and successive governments when working out policy and good practice is huge. “Women have achieved the right to be taken seriously when their partner is a violent one.”

On the other hand Victoria also feels disillusioned that pay equality is still such an unresolved issue in the UK.

Other influential women on the list include Lady Antonia Fraser, Hannah Pool, Kethy Lette, Meg Rosoff and Mary Beard, the classics expert who featured on Jamie Oliver’s Dream School.

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