Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles I am so excited to be here. Everything in America is so much bigger than in Europe. Look at me -- I am huge! (Laughter) It's fantastic! And TED Talks -- TED Talks are where everybody has great ideas. So the question is: Where do those great ideas come from? Well, it's a little bit of debate, but it's generally reckoned that the average person -- that's me -- has about 50,000 thoughts a day. Which is a lot, until you realize that 95 percent of them are the same ones you had the day before. (Laughter) And a lot of mine are really boring, OK? I think things like, "Oh! I know -- I must clean the floor. Oh! I forgot to walk the dog." My most popular: "Don't eat that cookie." (Laughter) So, 95 percent repetition. That leaves us with just a five percent window of opportunity each day to actually think something new. And some of my new thoughts are useless. The other day I was watching some sports on television, and I was trying to decide why I just don't engage with it. Some of it I find curious. This is odd. (Laughter) Do you think it would be worth being that flexible just to be able to see your heel at that angle? (Laughter) And here's the thing: I'm never going to be able to relate to that, because I'm never going to be able to do it, OK? Well, not twice, anyway. (Laughter) But I'll tell you the truth. The truth is I have never been any good at sport, OK? I've reached that wonderful age when all my friends say, "Oh, I wish I was as fit as I was when I was 18." And I always feel rather smug then. (Laughter) I'm exactly as fit as I was when I -- (Laughter) (Applause) I couldn't run then. I'm certainly not going to do it now. (Laughter) So then I had my new idea: Why not engage people like me in sport? I think what the world needs now is the Olympics for people with zero athletic ability. (Laughter) Oh, it would be so much more fun. We'd have three basic rules, OK? Obviously no drugs; no corruption, no skills. (Laughter) It would be -- No, it's a terrible idea. And I also know why I don't engage with sport when I watch it on television. It's because probably 97 percent of it is about men running and men kicking things, men trying to look neatly packaged in Lycra. There is -- (Laughter) Not always successfully. There is -- (Laughter) There is so little female sport on television, that a young woman watching might be forgiven for thinking, and how can I put this nicely, that the male member is the very lever you need to get yourself off the couch and onto a sports ground. (Laughter) The inequalities in sport are breathtaking. So this is what happens to me: I have a brand new idea, and immediately I come back to an old one. The fact is, there is not now, nor has there ever been in the whole of history, a single country in the world where women have equality with men. Not one. 196 countries, it hasn't happened in the whole of evolution. So, here is a picture of evolution. (Laughter) We women are not even in it! (Laughter) It's a wonder men have been able to evolve quite so brilliantly. So -- (Laughter) It bugs me, and I know I should do something about it. But I'm busy, OK? I have a full-on career, I've got three kids, I've got an elderly mom. In fact, if I'm honest with you, one of the reasons I came out here is because TED Talks said I could have 15 minutes to myself, and I never have that much time -- (Laughter) (Applause) So I'm busy. And anyway, I already had a go at changing the world. Here's the thing, OK? Everybody has inside themselves what I call an "activation button." It's the button that gets pressed when you think, "I must do something about this." It gets pressed for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you face some kind of inequality, or you've come across an injustice of some kind, sometimes an illness strikes, or you're born in some way disadvantaged, or perhaps underprivileged. So I was born gay, OK? I've always known, I don't think my family were the least bit surprised. Here is a picture of me aged four. I look cute, but inside I genuinely believed that I looked like Clint Eastwood. (Laughter) So my activation button was pressed when I had my kids -- three wonderful kids, born to my then-partner. Now here's the thing: I work on television in Britain. By the time they were born, I was already hosting my own shows and working in the public eye. I love what I do, but I love my kids more. And I didn't want them to grow up with a secret. 1994, when my son, my youngest was born, there was not, as far as I was aware, a single out, gay woman in British public life. I don't think secrets are a good thing. I think they are a cancer of the soul. So I decided to come out. Everybody warned me that I would never work again, but I decided it was absolutely worth the risk. Well, it was hell. In Britain, we have a particularly vicious section of the right-wing press, and they went nuts. And their hatred stirred up the less stable elements of society, and we got death threats -- enough death threats that I had to take the kids into hiding, and we had to have police protection. And I promise you there were many moments in the still of the night when I was terrified by what I had done. Eventually the dust settled. Against all expectation I carried on working, and my kids were and continue to be absolutely fantastic. I remember when my son was six, he had a friend over to play. They were in the next room; I could hear them chatting. The friend said to my son, "What's it like having two mums?" I was a little anxious to hear, so I leant in to hear and my son said, "It's fantastic, because if one of them's sick, you've still got another one to cook for you." (Laughter) So my activation button for gay equality was pressed, and along with many, many others, I campaigned for years for gay rights, and in particular, the right to marry the person that I love. In the end, we succeeded. And in 2014, on the day that the law was changed, I married my wife, who I love very much, indeed. (Applause) We didn't do it in a quiet way -- we did it on the stage at the Royal Festival Hall in London. It was a great event. The hall seats two-and-a-half thousand people. We invited 150 family and friends, then I let it be known to the public: anybody who wanted to come and celebrate, please come and join us. It would be free to anybody who wanted to come. Two-and-half thousand people turned up. (Applause) Every kind of person you can imagine: gays, straights, rabbis, nuns, married people, black, white -- the whole of humanity was there. And I remember standing on that stage thinking, "How fantastic. Job done. Love triumphs. Law changed." And I -- (Applause) And I genuinely thought my activation days were over, OK? So every year in that same hall, I host a fantastic concert to celebrate International Women's Day. We gather the world's only all-female orchestra, we play fantastic music by forgotten or overlooked women composers, we have amazing conductors -- it's Marin Alsop there from Baltimore conducting, Petula Clark singing -- and I give a lecture on women's history. I love to gather inspirational stories from the past and pass them on. Too often, I think history's what I call the Mount Rushmore model. It looks majestic, but the women have been entirely left out of it. And I was giving a talk in 2015 about the suffragettes -- I'm sure you know those magnificent women who fought so hard for the right for women in Britain to vote. And their slogan was: "Deeds, not words." And boy, they succeeded, because women did indeed get the vote in 1928. So I'm giving this talk about this, and as I'm talking, what I realized is: this was not a history lecture I was giving; this was not something where the job was done. This was something where there was so much left to do. Nowhere in the world, for example, do women have equal representation in positions of power. OK, let's take a very quick look at the top 100 companies in the London Stock Exchange in 2016. Top 100 companies: How many women running them? Seven. OK. Seven. That's all right, I suppose. Until you realize that 17 are run by men called "John." (Laughter) There are more men called John running FTSE 100 companies -- (Laughter) than there are women. There are 14 run by men called "Dave." (Laughter) Now, I'm sure Dave and John are doing a bang-up job. (Laughter) OK. Why does it matter? Well, it's that pesky business of the gender pay gap. Nowhere in the world do women earn the same as men. And that is never going to change unless we have more women at the top in the boardroom. We have plenty of laws; the Equal Pay Act in Britain was passed in 1975. Nevertheless, there are still many, many women who, from early November until the end of the year, by comparison to their male colleagues, are effectively working for free. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that women will finally get equal pay in ... 2133! Yay! (Laughter) That's a terrible figure. And here's the thing: the day before I came out to give my talk, the World Economic Forum revised it. So that's good, because that's a terrible -- 2133. Do you know what they revised it to? 2186. (Laughter) Yeah, another 53 years, OK? We are not going to get equal pay in my grandchildren's grandchildren's lives under the current system. And I have waited long enough. I've waited long enough in my own business. In 2016 I became the very first woman on British television to host a prime-time panel show. Isn't that great? Wonderful, I'm thrilled. But -- (Applause) But 2016! The first! Television's been around for 80 years! (Laughter) It may be television's not so important, but it's kind of symptomatic, isn't it?