Catherine Stewart (1977)
Partner, Jericho Chambers
“Men and women can be strong, clever and successful, and equally mediocre and inadequate. Gender has nothing to do with it.”
Why did you choose to study Economics?
I wanted to avoid doing a conventional arts subject and thought Economics would be more useful – the naivete of youth – I had not done Maths or Economics at A-Level!
How did your time at Trinity Hall impact on your career?
As the first year of women into Trinity Hall we were completely integrated and there was no sexism. The College belonged to us as much as to the men and we were treated the same. This set me up to be gender-blind throughout my career despite working in the male-dominated worlds of politics and business.
Do you have any advice for other women looking to work in your field?
Women are brilliant at seeking consensus and this is what is required when working out a policy to meet the needs of all stakeholders. Confrontational politics are so outmoded.
Who are your female role models?
There are few in my profession but in life I look at Ines de la Fressange and Kristin Scott Thomas as independent women with professionalism and style.
What does gender equality mean to you?
Blindness. Men and women can be strong, clever and successful and equally mediocre and inadequate. Gender had nothing to do with it.
What is your greatest career or academic achievement to date?
Building a consultancy business alone from scratch in London, brussels and Washington DC , earning professional respect and market success and selling it profitabaly at the right time.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Ask for advice and help. Don’t think you should know everything and can do it all alone.
It is a cliché but women can have everything – but not in excess and not all at the same time. You may have to compromise at some times but you can regain later. Stay committed to your values as this will create a parallel universe of business and professions with values and success which will serve future generations of men and women who do not relish the single track alpha-male environment. Choose your life partner carefully.