Fleur Pellerin, the French Junior Minister for Small and Medium Enterprises, Innovation, and the Digital Economy.
I suppose we can all agree that recognized success in a field of activity is the major career goal regardless of ethnicity and sex. Well, the French journalist Daniel Schick thinks otherwise. Whilst interviewing Fleur Pellerin on Europe 1 national radio at the end of July, he thought it was appropriate to start by asking her the following:
Do you really know why you've been chosen? Is it because you're a beautiful woman from a diversity background? Because you belong to a little-visible minority? Because you are the proof of a successful adoption? Because you are a strong signal to Asian markets? Or also because you are competent? Do you really know?
First off, let’s point out who the interviewee was. Fleur Pellerin is the current Junior Minister for Small and Medium Enterprises, Innovation, and the Digital Economy in the new French government of President François Hollande. The 38 year old politician was born in Seoul, South Korea, abandoned by her parents in the first days of her life, and was adopted by a French couple when she was six months old. She received a first class education at the prestigious École Nationale d'Administration (ENA) and rose through the ranks to of the state’s economic departments. It seems that there are many reasons to admire and respect her background, despite some of the practices of the French government.
Considering that an interview is conducted by a human being, is 'politically correct' journalism doable? Being a reporter is definitely a role that occasionally entails an edgy play against the rules. In the effort to attract larger audiences, it can be advantageous to sound more provocative and audacious than a public speaker should. Schick crossed the line by firing questions not only sexist, but also indiscreet and offensive. I am pretty sure that he wouldn’t be asking the same if the interviewee were a male French-Korean politician. Pellerin remained cool, calm, and collected, reversing to her advantage the disastrous opening. Fortunately, capable women are here to prove that we are no longer "off to a very bad start."
Girl Museum Inc.