The Telegraph, 5 June 2012
Women are paid less than men because they are “too nice” to ask for a rise, Cherie Blair has said.
The barrister, and wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, blamed women’s “social conditioning” for the 20 per cent gender pay gap.
She also urged young women to be financially self-reliant to ensure they are free of male influence and to not have to worry about “anyone leaving you”.
Mrs Blair, a QC, told an audience of young women in north London to never rely financially on reliant on “your father, your brother, your husband or your son”.
Explaining the overall pay gap of 20 per cent between men’s and women’s annual salaries, she said: “Part of the reason why men are still paid a higher salary is because girls are socially conditioned to be nice, so that holds them back from asking for a salary increase.”
Mrs Blair was speaking at the Dialogue Society, in Islington, which works to engage young people, and urged the young women in the audience to be self reliant.
The mother-of-four was raised by her mother after her father, the actor Tony Booth, left when she was eight.
“I grew up in a working-class family from Liverpool,” she said. “My mother was a trained actress but also spent a long period working in a fish and chip shop when my father left her.
“She picked herself up and got herself a career in travel. But it taught me a very important lesson - to be self-reliant.
“If you support yourself financially, firstly you won’t have to worry about anyone leaving you, but secondly you can make choices you couldn’t otherwise make. You can say no to your father, your brother, your husband or your son.”
Mrs Blair also talked about how she once harboured ambitions to be Prime Minister when she was a teenager and that her early life toughened her up for the Downing Street years.
“When I first went to Downing Street I felt some people, especially some newspapers, were snobby about me being there,” she said.
“But I have spent my life taking risks and pushing myself forward, and by the time I’d got there I’d learned a lot of lessons that helped me deal with that attitude. I have no regrets about my life, because it’s made me who I am.”