Sexism in 2010 – have we moved on?

Have we moved on from this?

Every so often you read something that makes you stop in your tracks, and today I had one of those moments. Times journalist Caitlin Moran started a discussion about sexism on Twitter and encouraged her followers to share their stories. Rather than a few tales from the 1950s, she was bombarded with examples of discrimination and misogyny that were quite shocking. To see the full extent of what people were saying, I did a search for @caitlinmoran to see what everyone was tweeting to her – there were so many tweets I couldn’t keep up with reading them all! And many referred to treatment in the workplace. Here is a selection – brace yourselves!

  • I once was told (afterwards) I got a job only because I was wearing a short skirt at the interview.
  • Boss announced as he got up to go to a meeting ‘You girls can sit and talk about shoes and files your nails whilst I’m gone’
  • I was promoted to purchasing manager at work and the president said he made the decision because “women like to shop”.
  • Friend on partnership track at major city law firm “I am pregnant”. Response from partner “do you want job in marketing?”
  • Interviewing a skip owner for a PR story (I know, FFS) he addressed all his answers to my male colleague (not a writer)… he only turned to me to tell the story of the hamster they rescued from a skip. All I would be interested in, right?
  • My breasts were given a round of applause at a work’s golf day.
  • My female Doctor cousin was paying for petrol, was asked “are you sure this is your credit card?” as it had “Dr.” on it.
  • Was called by our company pensions admin people. I told them I wasn’t the best person to talk to about it (would refer to PA). Man on phone asked “oh, does your husband deal with all your financial affairs?” My job title = managing director
  • My last job, at a business lunch, this guy said ‘well, you’re only a little girl’ when I didn’t finish everything on my plate.
  • Regularly have people walk past the 2 guys WHO WORK FOR ME only to ask me where the paper for the photocopier is.
  • Person refusing to leave msg: “I don’t deal with insignificances &anyway you’re a woman, you’d probably get it all wrong”
  • At a magazine I know, one guy has a bell that he rings whenever a ‘fit bird’ walks in so all the others can check her out
  • At a job interview I was asked to come back for a 2nd interview but this time to “do something with my hair and makeup”!!!
  • A former colleague once threw a shoe at me followed by the remark “F*cking women” because I refused to make coffee for him
  • Once asked how “likely” it was that I would get pregnant, in an interview.
  • I’m a sound engineer,working in theatre.After one show,middle aged man came up to me at the sound desk and said “Do you do the sound then?” “Yes, obviously” “And you’re a girl?” “….” “How do you manage? All that technology”

Apologies there are so many – but I couldn’t imagine anyone getting bored reading those! Really is sobering to think that these opinions still exist isn’t it?

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Career vs Family life

I recently came across an article in HR magazine claiming that more than a third of women do not think they can meet their career goals while still paying enough attention to their personal lives. We recently blogged about the lack of women on the board of UK firms – are the two connected?

Kenexa Research claims ‘traditionally, women play a larger role in managing their family responsibilities and, therefore, they are likely to feel pressure in trying to balance both work and family demands’.  Kenexa carried out a survey of over 1000 employees asking for their views on work-life balance; just over fifty per cent believed their employers supported their efforts to balance both their work life and personal life. Does being successful both in the workplace and at home depend then on the support you get from your employer? Read the rest of this entry »

Free style guide


We’ve teamed up with award winning online personal stylist and shopper, iStylista.com, to give every one of our female members a complimentary ‘Style Goddess’ style guide worth £30. After completing a few simple questions about yourself you’ll be able to download your very own personalised style guide (totalling over 25 pages) offering heaps of advice specific to you, including ideal clothing styles to wear for your body shape, your best colours, dressing troublesome body areas and lots of essential styling tips you can start using, to name but a few. Once you’ve downloaded your complimentary style guide you’ll have free access to an online changing room where a stylist will suggest items of clothing best suited to your body shape, natural colouring etc. on a weekly basis. Simply visit www.iStylista.com/womenintechnology and follow the instructions. But hurry! Offer is available until 18th April.

Daily Mail strikes again

The Daily Mail strikes again. And the title says it all: “Can love survive when a woman earns MORE than a man?” You can find the piece here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1249768/Can-love-survive-woman-earns-MORE-man.html

It starts by saying: “It’s a seismic social shift: nearly half of women are paid as much as or more than their man”. ‘Hooray!’ we think – finally all the fighting for equal rights is perhaps beginning to pay off. However according to the Daily Mail, “it could all end in tears” and “the truth is that we don’t know whether to feel triumphant or dismayed”. That’s certainly news to me!

Here are some other gems of information:

“Many [women] are working simply because their families need their income, and increasing numbers are finding themselves accidental breadwinners because men’s jobs have been hit far harder than women’s in the economic downturn – a phenomenon dubbed the ‘mancession’.”

“If the past 40 years have been all about women entering the workforce and boosting the economy, the next 40 will be spent dealing with the social, personal and family consequences. And that may be the hardest part of all.”

With the struggle of breaking the glass ceiling that women still face, it’s disappointing that articles like this are still written. All it does it turn women’s success into a negative, when it’s an achievement we should be celebrating. What’s more the article states that only 19% of women earn more than their partners with another 25% earning the same – that means that around half of the women in the UK still don’t earn as much as their partner.

As the article states, “social attitudes are still trailing far behind”. But they won’t improve when we’re still reading pieces like this.

Parliamentary quotas

It seems that we may be moving a step closer to quotas for women in politics. A cross-party conference has announced that if there’s not a significant increase in the number of female MPs at the next election, mandatory legal quotas should be brought in. The conference also suggested the introduction of non-mandatory ethnic minority shortlists and said that parliament is currently: “too white, middle-class, heterosexual, male and able-bodied”. Only 20% of MPs in the UK are female compared to much higher figures of 47% in Sweden and 38% in Denmark and democracy is under threat unless the government becomes more representative, according to the report from the Daily Mail.

Positive discrimination is always a tricky subject. It is not ideal to implement it, but sometimes it is necessary to give minorities, such as women, the chance to be seen and heard. Former MP Ann Widdecombe is one of the critics saying: “What matters is the merit they bring. We really cannot have targets for particular categories. It’s frankly insulting because it suggests women and ethnic minorities cannot get there on their own merit.”

Of course merit is important – even if quotas are introduced, I don’t doubt for one second that any women becoming MPs will get there unless they are suitably qualified and experienced. But the fact remains that, at the moment, politics is an arena where it’s crucial to have a gender balance but that gender balance is currently a long way off. And quotas could be a great way to bring about that balance. The question is: what does a ‘significant increase’ in female MPs at the next election mean exactly? And would quotas ever be brought introduced in the UK or is this just talk?

Networking events in December 2009

Although we’re not hosting any more networking events this year, there are plenty of events being run by other organisations that you can go along to during December. We believe networking is one of the most important things you can do for your career enhancement / progression so have a look through this list of events (they’re all happening in London so apologies to everyone outside of the capital) and get along to those which are of interest to you.

As ever please contact the relevant organiser if you have any questions and if you’d like to see other events listings, click here: http://www.womenintechnology.co.uk/events/

Tuesday 1st December: City Women’s Network: Female FTSE Report 2009 – Where to from here?

Wednesday 2nd December: Management Today – IT Innovation Debate (breakfast meeting)

Thursday 3rd December: Inspiring Women Series: Plug into Mentoring

Friday 4th December: CIO Executive Council Women in IT Networking Breakfast

Tuesday 8th December: MasterCard European Women’s Leadership Network

Tuesday 8th December: Women in Telecoms and Technology Group (WiTT) Meeting

Thursday 10th December: BCSWomen Christmas Networking Event

Tuesday 15th December: WES Shape the Future: Step up to the Challenge – networking and celebration of women in STEM

And we’ll look forward to seeing you at our events in 2010!

Thanks so much!

The Female Economy

I read Lady Geek’s recent blog post about the ‘Female Economy’ with interest, about how women represent the biggest market opportunity in the world. With female income totalling $13 trillion, this figure is larger than the GDP of China and India combined!

female economy

This got me thinking about how this is relevant to women in the workplace, women on the board and more specifically women in technology. What these figures show, and what this article in the FT also highlights, is that women have a huge amount of purchasing power and this could be a way of helping us out of the recession. With women representing such a big proportion of society and controlling so much consumer spending, how can companies afford not to have women on their teams and management? How are predominantly male teams going to be able to relate to their customer base effectively and understand its needs? The simple answer is: they can’t. Ultimately it’s going to be the forward thinking companies that employ and promote plenty of women that will have the edge when it comes to boosting sales, keeping customers happy and staying ahead of the competition.