Sky Sports sexism saga: as bad in the boardroom?

Samantha Burlton, founder of So Organic…

“I feel really torn on this issue. Part of me wants to defend Richard Keys and Andy Gray as I’m sure there was no malicious intent. These kind of comments are often thrown around in groups of men and women as part of lively banter. They think we know nothing about football and taunt us with it, just as we ridicule them for being big babies and suffering from ‘man flu. In most cases, it’s just a bit of fun. However, joking around is completely different to true sexism and discrimination. I have never had to deal with either among my employees since having my own business but I have been on the receiving end of these kind of old-fashioned attitudes, and sometimes it’s so subtly done that you would hardly notice it.

“There have been numerous times when I have attended meetings with my business partner Stuart (who is also my husband) and, until introductions are made and they realise that in fact it is me that is the CEO, much more of the attention is directed towards him.

“In the early days of our business, I was also largely ignored when trying to talk to estate agents about commercial properties, almost as if they took one look at me as a young(ish!) female and assumed that I wasn’t really a serious contender. If Stuart went to speak to them, they’d be falling over themselves to talk to him.

“All of this kind of negative behaviour towards women does annoy me. I find it irritating but also slightly amusing that they completely underestimate me and other women. I am confident in my abilities and have never felt inferior to any man that I have worked with, with or without a bit of banter. I don’t like the idea of women-only shortlists for jobs and wouldn’t want any job that had one. I want to compete on merit. I am proud of being a woman and want everyone to know that I am one, which is why – despite everyone I know calling me Sam – I use Samantha for my email address and signature so that there’s no mistake!”

Go back to the main story to read the views of other female entrepreneurs.

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