It may be more than 200 years since the Jacobins ran through the streets of Paris to the rallying cry of “Liberté, egalité, fraternité, ou la mort”, but while these principles still underpin our ideas of civilised society, their interpretation remains the subject of fierce debate.
Writing in Friday’s edition of the Guardian newspaper in the UK, Zoe Williams deconstructed the current state of feminism in France and pretty much concluded, as Bernard-Henri Lévy, the philosopher, put it: “France is an old Gallic macho country.”
This week I interviewed Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive of Areva – the world’s largest builder of nuclear reactors and the number one miner of uranium.
Lauvergeon’s journey to the top of Areva is very French, graduating from her elite education at the École des Mines de Paris to the Elysée Palace and then the senior ranks of government-owned interests. As a physicist mineur she is one of an elite, predominantly male, tribe.