The Disappearing Women

The Disappearing Women

Did they fall or were they pushed?

The debate on quotas for women on boards seems to be over as quickly as it began, in the main media. Teresa Rees of Cardiff University, adviser on Gender Equality to the European Commission, believes that there are quotas in place. They’re for men. “Quotas, in effect, is what we currently have, an unofficial quota system for men. If  brains, skills and competencies are evenly distributed then why are places on boards and top jobs disproportionately awarded to men?”

Everyone has an everyday sexism moment.   Of the 20 odd prominent women I’ve interviewed, each one has a glass ceiling moment, if not a casting couch one. From Betty Boothroyd, trying to buy a TV on hire purchase as a single woman, to the Chief Inspector of Prisons being greeted as  her junior, who was male.


The sixth in a series of studies of the impact of gender diversity in Australia, of 849 directors of 105 boards, makes several points about the benefits of gender diverse boards . Compared with male directors, women are disproportionately likely to have professional legal, accounting or finance qualifications while men are more likely to have senior executive experience.

“If career progression was based on pure merit, some male business leaders and law firm senior partners would never even have seen the paintings on the boardroom wall. This is disappointing for the talented women who lose out, but is also damaging to the organisations which lose what they have to offer.” President of the Law society Ms Scott-Moncrieff at the InterLaw Diveristy Forum,after the International Summit.

Our own Martha Lane Fox sees as patronizing and sexist, the assumption that with quotas come sub standard women, saying there are hundreds of great women out there. Financial Mail Women’s Forum .

The BBC‘s attempt to be more female friendly is to run 100 top women on Women’s Hour.  Marginalized again. Jenni Murray’s comment that women are uncomfortable with power, is at odds, with Dame Suzi Leather who was so confident of protecting her charities, that the government threatened to take away her chair. Then they did.

Sue Akers Deputy Assistant Commissioner of police, Queen’s Police medal, called to a Select committee, was confident that in pursuing phone hacking corruption she would go as far as necessary. Yet only a few months later her surprise early retirement was announced, and it was reported that this was a move she’d planned for before the games. Difficult to reconcile?

There is a particular culture at the BBC, not women friendly, but for a short while Question time had 2 token women on the panel. and QI the other panels games? Perhaps it’s not so much case of token women, as that women are often more effective, and this threatens the status quo.

Certainly Cynthia Carroll seemed to be a strong and efficient leader of Anglo American mining, despite constant sexist sniping.  Forced to step down in April, interesting comments were made about her former Deputy chairman.   As wearethecity can attest, the strong confident women are there, they’re just not very visible in the media.

Even the mentoring in the pods of The London Eye, on October 8th, the day of the girl, was not mentioned. We need more visibility. almost every item of current news, be it London, global or Middle East needs a woman’s perspective.

Let’s be visible!



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