The woman who conquered

Photo: Supplied THE HUSBAND: Frederick Lugard became Flora Shaw's husband and he was the founder of Nigeria.

It may not seem like it today, but back in the 1900s, journalism, like many other careers, was considered a man’s profession. The Journalist is the story of how Shaw worked her way up that corporate ladder to become a highly influential woman in the male-dominated industry.

It is written by Shaw’s great-niece, Jos Scharrer, who was one of the first women in South Africa to receive the position of board director and creative director of VZ Ogilvy, the biggest advertising agency during the early 70s.

“I always wanted to write the story of Flora Shaw from the early days when I first got into advertising. It made me wonder how Flora Shaw managed to climb to the top of her profession in journalism nearly 100 years before, and how she handled the male prejudice against women in careers,” explained Scharrer.

“[In those days] no woman could be expected to ever become a credible writer on finance, economics and politics.” Scharrer went on to say that many of Shaw’s first articles were written under the pseudonym F Shaw because no one would believe they were written by a woman.

The book required extensive research, which helped Scharrer discover that Shaw’s husband, Frederick Lugard, was the founder of Nigeria and almost single-handedly pushed the Arab slave traders out of East Africa with a private army he had raised.

“Anyone interested in modern political and social development would be interested,” she said.

“It is a view on colonial and imperial history from a very different point of view and is particularly slanted towards South African history. We meet, Rhodes, Kruger, Jameson, Churchill and others, from her point of view.”

The book is an incredible read, sometimes shocking but altogether very exciting and enlightening. Since International Women’s Day fell on 8 March, we recommend this book go on your ‘empowering women’ list of books to read.

Scharrer revealed that she self-published the book, so those who are interested in a copy should contact her directly at

A copy of The Journalist by Jos Scharrer is R250 when ordered directly from Scharrer herself. It is also available from or and Kindle.

Victoria Taylor

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