Women in Work and Business


While women in academia face a lot of issues specific to academia, there’s a lot of issues they face that are faced by working women everywhere. So I thought it would be good to start putting all the articles about this in one place.

Here’s a few to start with. Unfortunately they’re all rather depressing.

Mansplaining: how not to talk to female Nasa astronauts
Ah, mansplaining. It’s not a new phenomenon, but if social media has done anything positive, it’s making ‘the public’ (by which I mean men) aware of how prevalent this sort of behaviour is. What I loved about this article was the rejection of the idea that this is something for women to deal with,

However… the way to fix it isn’t simply to suggest that women need to be more assertive, as we are often told. The problem doesn’t spring from hesitant women wringing their hands and dithering until a heroic man rides in and provides an explanation. The aforementioned astronaut, astrophysicist, Marine Corp veteran and Olympic cyclist hardly fit that description.

No, it arises when men are brought up in a world that teaches them that their knowledge and opinions are worth more than those of a far more qualified woman. It happens when some men act on these ingrained assumptions. And its impact, particularly in the workplace, can go far beyond the initial annoyance. The only way to stop it is to change the narrative that sets up male contributions as superior in the first place, not to “train” women to deal with it later on.


Obama’s Female Staffers Came Up With a Genius Strategy to Make Sure Their Voices Were Heard
Next up is an article I find really depressing but I seem to be in the minority. Every article I’ve seen has touted how this is a ‘genius’ or ‘brilliant’ strategy. It’s not. It’s a good idea though one that really shouldn’t be necessary in the 21st century, but I think that rather than praising the strategy we should be asking why it’s needed. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, it’s not, but it smacks of those ‘one simple trick to lose weight’ ads that promise so much only to lead to disappointment. It seems to imply that being heard in meetings is simply a matter of all the women supporting each other but things are rarely that simple. What if you don’t agree with an idea? What if you’re the only woman in the room? What if the men start realising that you’re all supporting each other and think that you’re just being a ‘clique’ and begin to ignore you all? More fundamentally, it puts the onus on women to get heard rather than getting men to start listening and doesn’t seem to do anything to address the culture that makes these sorts of strategies necessary.

On-Site Daycare Is Disappearing as a Company Perk
The title says it all and all I can do is despair.



Why I Won’t Make it Past Your Careers Page
It’s a short piece so rather than pull a quote I’d recommend you just go and read the whole piece. It explains how corporate image can put off people who feel they don’t conform to the image being portrayed.



‘Corporate feminism’ oppresses women. Here’s how

This is a really good piece that I highly recommend reading. It argues that the focus on getting women onto corporate boards and into high-earning jobs is detracting from the fact that most women never even get a foot onto the ladder that leads to those positions,

“… aiming for a society in which everyone has enough to survive would seem a more pressing priority than making the rich richer. Because for as long as the vast majority of women make little more than £119,000 in their entire working lives, the genders of those doing so in a year mean very little in terms of feminist progress.”



[How to get ahead in Silicon Valley: hide being a woman, says male ‘expert’][1]


It’s 2016 and women are still being told they should hide being female in order to get ahead.
[1]: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/sep/29/wall-street-journal-article-silicon-valley-hide-gender



Why Helping Pregnant Women at Work Can Hurt Them in the Long Run

A new study found that the more help pregnant women receive at work, including simple acts like a pen retrieval, the more likely they were to want to quit their jobs later on. Also, the researchers found a positive correlation between the amount of help received and the development of feelings of incompetence; the more pregnant women were given a friendly pass on a meeting or left off of challenging projects, the less they were able to see themselves as good workers capable of balancing pregnancy and a job and/or motherhood and a job.

On Your Mark, Give Birth, Go Back To Work
A look at the lack of maternity leave in the US, the only high-income country in the world that doesn’t have paid maternity leave.



Workers ‘cutting hours’ because of childcare costs

More than one in four UK business leaders say employees have cut their hours because of the “high cost of childcare”, a report from the British Chambers of Commerce says.

I find it interesting that the article is so gender-neutral given the fact we know these costs fall disproportionately on women. But at least by keeping it neutral and highlighting the economic impacts it may break it out from being ‘just a woman’s issue’ to being something that men start to care about too.

“Men believe in housework fairies”: Women on why they still do more chores than men
A set of vignettes on how women and men divide housework and how so much of it is down to unspoken social assumptions.



Pregnancy discrimination report suggests ‘half of women’ affected
This is a report from the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland titled Expecting Equality: a Formal Investigation under the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976

Young women ‘shut out of jobs market’ by lack of support
This is a report from the Young Women’s Trust title Female and Forgotten that highlights how young women are being shut out of the job market even more than young men.



I’ve been dismissive of companies using feminism to sell products before but this ad from GE is slightly different as it actually seems to be them putting their money where their mouth is:

GE Publicly Commits to Hiring More Women With a Gorgeous Ad Directed by Nicole Holofcener



Women are held to more uncomfortable, more demanding and more time consuming dress codes than men. Finally, the government is starting to recognise how stupid this is.

How discriminatory dress codes at work are digging their heels in



Women were to blame for the South Sea Bubble (according to men)
I couldn’t decide where to post this but decided here would work. It’s a strange tale that explains how women have been blamed for the excesses of men for many, many years.



I’ve let my links build up so don’t really have the time to describe each article individually. Luckily the titles are pretty clear.

‘A ball of tears’: Ciara Burke was fired by Emirates after falling down stairs

“Sorry for bothering you!”: the emotional labour of female emails

The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why

Nuclear power plant faces backlash after choosing interns by way of a bikini competition

Will you bugger off to play golf? And other questions more pertinent than pregnancy

How a job acquires a gender (and less authority if it’s female)

Spanish airline Iberia to drop pregnancy test demand



ASX 200 has just 11 female CEOs, and 41 have no executive women leaders
The stats are terrible but what’s even worse is they’re a huge improvement on a decade ago. In 2008, when stats were first collected, 46% of ASX companies had no women in their executive leadership teams while now it’s 20%.

I worked at Bell Pottinger. The South Africa scandal reflects its toxic culture
I won’t pretend to fully understand the scandal that precipitated this company’s downfall but the culture is certainly not unique to them and shows that big businesses still thrive on misogyny and nepotism.

It was a boys’ club, and we never forgot that. An office party was held at the Playboy Club, and female attendees were told to wear high heels. Female partners were rare, and didn’t last long – I saw two senior women pushed out within months of joining. A male partner took me to lunch and kindly explained that I needed to be better at hiding my emotions, because being emotional would hold me back. Another told me to let it go when one of his newly hired ex-army pals cheerfully assumed I was an intern.



Busting the myth that it’s acceptable for women’s careers to go unsupported when they become mothers – Laura Harrison, Strategy and Transformation Director at the CIPD
This is a great interview.

What are your views about the myth that it’s acceptable for women’s careers to go unsupported when they become mothers?

Pregnant womanThis idea comes from the notion that there are two different kinds of parent. The ones who have a responsibility for nurturing and raising children, and who do this as a ‘life-style choice,’ and the ones who happen to have children, but carry on with their lives almost regardless, with minimal ‘life style’ impact. In this conception of reality, the former are called mothers, the latter are fathers. In 2017 that’s just bizarre.



If There’s Only One Woman in Your Candidate Pool, There’s Statistically No Chance She’ll Be Hired
It’s as depressing as the headline states. But, if you add a second woman, suddenly they’re changes become equal to those of the men. Being the lone woman (or lone minority) in a selection pool seems to highlight your difference and people like the status quo. It reminds me of a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg who said that when she was the only woman on the Supreme Court everything written about her was framed as her being a woman, but as soon as Sonia Sotomayor came and there were two women, suddenly she was written about as just another of the Justices.