Friday 18 January 2019

I'm baffled by notion of glass ceiling, says media chief Gaffney

Lucy Gaffney
Lucy Gaffney

WOMEN can have it all, but probably not all at the same time, one of Ireland's top executives has said.

Lucy Gaffney, the chairperson of media holding company Communicorp, said she could not finish reading Facebook boss Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In, as it irritated her.

"Lean in my arse is really what I'd say," said Ms Gaffney.

She described Ms Sandberg's message as a "patronising expression" coming from a woman who has a "massive support system" with two nannies and a cook - a set-up that bears no comparison with the lives of ordinary "real" women.

"I admire what she's done - she's a fantastic COO, but she's in no position to be lecturing ordinary real women with insecurities," said Ms Gaffney.

Instead, she revealed that her own life involves doing a day's work and then stopping for groceries on the way home. Sometimes if she is attending a function she will get a text message telling her to "get milk".

"So I've failed because there's no milk in the house," she said.


Ms Gaffney is a non-executive director of Independent News & Media plc, publisher of the Herald. She is also a mother of two who took time out from her career to raise her daughters.

She said she has "never fully known or understood" the term 'glass ceiling' and has never encountered such a thing. Instead, women make their own choices, she believes.

"Women put extra pressure on themselves," she said, claiming that this pressure does not come from the environment around them but from themselves because "generally in a family it's the mother that bears the burden of the practicalities of running a household".

She also said there is no secret to juggling success in the workplace with the challenges of home life.

"You can have it all, but probably not all at the same time," she said.

Ms Gaffney was speaking at the launch of the Image Businesswoman of the Year awards, of which she is a judge.

The awards, on November 24, aim to recognise and celebrate women who continue to shine in the Irish business world.


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