Presenter Katie Owen says women refused to be interviewed by her over her Welsh accent
A presenter and DJ says she was left "shocked and speechless” after she claimed two women refused to do an interview with her because of her Welsh accent.
Katie Owen, who grew up in Merthyr and Pontyclun, said she was working at a London red carpet event when she overheard women saying they wouldn't do an interview with her because they "hate Welsh people" and didn't want to hear her "jarring" accent.
Katie shared the exchange on Twitter and has since received numerous tweets of support, with many sharing their own experience of accent bias and discrimination.
She told ITV Wales that although the experience left her "trying not to cry," she insists she is "not going to tone down who I am".
Katie said she had been in the bathroom at the awards event when she overheard two women saying her Welsh accent "annoyed" them and began ridiculing the way she speaks by doing impressions of her.
“You see that kind of thing in films when people hear someone talking about them in the bathroom, but not in real life,” she said.
"They felt like bullies in school.”
Katie Owen said she had never felt her south Wales accent had held her back professionally.
"I don’t think it has ever affected me before. Maybe sometimes people don’t take you as seriously, but I would hope nowadays that people are trying to be more inclusive with regional accents," she said.
"During the World Cup, I had lot of abuse online for being Welsh, but not for my accent."
However, she said that she has heard of others in similar situations. "I have loads of friends in London from Wales and they’ve all had an experience like that in professional environments", she said.Katie Owen started out DJing in clubs in Cardiff before moving to London.
She has presented on Radio 1, performed on the main stage at Reading and Leeds Festival and toured with Kasabian. Most recently, she DJ'ed at Wales' World Cup fan zones in Qatar.
“We need to pave the way and get more regional accents and show the next generation that we can do it," she told ITV Wales.
"Having more public figures in the media, like Alex Jones, Huw Edwards, Huw Stephens, Joanna Page, when you see people like that in the media, the younger generation probably look up to them."
It comes after a study by Sutton Trust found 1 in 5 professionals had been mocked, criticised or singled out in the workplace due to their accent.When asked what message she had for the women who ridiculed her, Katie said: "I feel sorry for them because the Welsh are lovely people. If they had taken five minutes to speak to me, I think they wouldn’t have had that opinion."
“It’s made me more self-conscious, but I’m not going to tone down my accent, I love Wales. I'm not going to tone down who I am, not going to let them affect me, or set me back in my career.”
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