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?

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 »

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.

Career DIY

Read my article on helping to progress your own IT career on Business Computing World, featuring quotes and advice from top female technologists: http://www.businesscomputingworld.co.uk/?p=2153

Female bosses

Whenever we run an event at womenintechnology, we always ask the women (and the few men!) who sign up, a few questions – and they never disappoint. We always get interesting statistics, quotes and anecdotes to share, so we thought we’d create a poll here on our blog. Once again our network didn’t let us down and we got some great information!

We asked a simple question – do you prefer a male or female boss? With all the stories about female on female bullying and the lack of women in leadership positions, I thought this was a very relevant question. The result? Almost half (44%) said they preferred a male boss. So does that mean the majority preferred a female boss? No. 38% said they had no preference and just 19% favoured women.

However I wasn’t at all surprised about this because we’ve heard this before – see our previous blog post on women vs women. It seems that when it comes to supporting other women, we’re just not very good at it. Or do we just need to give more women the opportunity to have these positions of leadership?

So we have the stats but we’d love to hear the thoughts behind them – why do you prefer men as bosses? What experiences have you had with female bosses? And what do you think about these results? Please leave your comments below!

Why employ a woman?

This probably isn’t the type of question that you’d expect the Editor of Vogue – a woman that employs a 90% female team – to be posing. But it is! This article only appeared online this morning and already has almost 200 comments as it’s an issue that always seems to divide people. The main point of the article seems to be: is all the legislation surrounding maternity designed to help women actually doing more harm than good?

It’s a controversial, but very topical, issue. Author Alexandra Shulman raises some good points and it’s quite a brave article to write – as she observed herself: “It’s barely acceptable to write this piece at all – and probably impossible for a man.” She discusses many issues – women expecting to return to their old jobs but working less hours and employers saying that they can promote younger women to take over the jobs for less money. But her main point is this: let’s not make women so difficult to employ that it actually prevents progress.

We could be heading for trouble, as firms – especially SMEs – might think twice about employing women who could at any time announce that they’re taking a year off. So what can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen? The obvious answer seems to be to extend paternity leave. If both men and women were entitled to the same amount of leave, the prospect of employing a woman would be a lot less risky. But as it stands, women get 52 weeks and men get just 2 – for many employers, it’s a no brainer.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts below!

Leadership in Challenging Times

Get rid of the boys’ club attitude!

That was the main message from female technologists at our recent event – Leadership in Challenging Times. Held in association with WeAreTheCity, the event was hosted by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in London and had a great turnout – thanks to everyone who attended!

As always, we asked attendees to answer a few sign up questions before the event, and as always we got some interesting and informative responses. The main message to come from the female technologists was that to increase female leadership we need to get rid of the boys’ club, appreciate diversity and support more flexible working. Here some other key findings:

  • 68% of attendees considered themselves to be a leader within their organisation
  • 93% agreed that men and women’s leadership styles differ
  • 63% believed that communication skills are the most important core competency for authentic leadership

When we asked the attendees what businesses could do to increase the number of female leaders, many said there needed to be more education in the workplace about the variations in men and women’s leadership styles, and that these differences should be embraced. Flexible working and coaching / mentoring were other popular suggestions to increase female leadership. Here is what a few women had to say:

  • “Discourage stereotypes that make women feel they need to behave like men in order to progress”
  • “[We need] awareness and identification that women lead in a different way and a better understanding about what women can bring to the table”
  • “Find a way of making family and business needs work in tandem rather than against each other
  • “Introduce mentoring and coaching within organisations, without a doubt. The culture of some organisations needs to shift from the competitive to the collaborative.”
  • “I consider myself a leader but struggle to be in a leadership position due to the nature of my male dominated organisation”
  • “Re-train male and female core competencies to all execs.”
  • “Get rid of the boys’ club attitute to promoting and hiring. Most people promote people like them – there needs to be more of an objective approach to promotions.”

Do you agree with these women? Are these the right steps to be taken? Would they improve the number of women in leadership? Leave your thoughts here!