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Shocking, stunning, horrifying, unmissable. Guardian report on female invisibility.
282

Bidisha · 05/12/2011 00:00

The Guardian's Kira Cochrane has produced an exhaustive, serious and very informative, though devastating, study about the representation of women in all walks of life, from politics and the media to comedy. Full disclosure: I am quoted in it briefly. The article is the result of several months' study by a diverse group of researchers and gives a complete picture of just how strongly women are pushed out of the public frame - and how this impacts on girls and young women's sense of their own voices and possibilities.

I would urge anyone who cares about this to get onto the Guardian comment thread and talk, give your own experiences, encourage other women, participate positively and in solidarity. This is a hugely important article and it's all about us and our place and space. Don't let the derailers and trolls dominate!

Here's the article: www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/dec/04/why-british-public-life-dominated-men

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verysmellyeli · 09/12/2011 12:08

I'm a bit Shock that a thread on visibility of women has descended into 'women must try harder and look polished' - but I suppose that this shows how far we have got to go.......

At work, I like to look professional. But what matters to my patients is what I do and say to them and their families, not what I look like. One of my absolute role models in the hospital is pretty scruffy but universally admired. And another past female colleague is, in the words of a friend of mine, 'too groomed to be true'. So perhaps there is a balance, but really you should be as groomed as you want to be/ have time for without it influencing how far you can progress in your career. I would like to think that my credibility is independent of what dress I am wearing. I don't judge my male colleagues on their clothes.

Also - I would like to go against Xenia a bit and say that the way forward is NOT all women working full-time and out-earning their men. Fine if you want to, but actually I don't. I like child-rearing. I want to do the bulk of my children's care at the moment. That is my own choice (I think!) rather than societal pressure - believe you me, I have had 7 years to think hard about it.

It would be easier sometimes if I did work full-time as the boundaries would be less blurred, I would sub-contract a lot more housework and childcare, and I wouldn't get phone calls from neurosurgeons whilst I was in ASDA. But - no-one actually works full-time ie. all the hours in the week - lets be more flexible for both men AND women, less presumptious, less judgemental.

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Want2bSupermum · 09/12/2011 12:49

sakura I think part of the problem clerical and teaching areas is that when women moved into these roles they changed working practices so they could work and take care of their family. Men don't do that. Also, when I walk into my office the assitants are all female and they do not all dress in a professional manner. The ones that don't, devalue the role and all of the assistants suffer. I see the same with many teachers, especially in the UK. Wearing leggings to work as a teacher is not OK in my opinion. I have a couple of neighbours who are elementary school teachers. When I see them go to work they look very smart and could easily walk from the classroom into an office. Both ladies work in well paid school districts and they earn well over $100k/yr as teachers. They are very well respected in the community and parents, including myself, approach them for help with raising their children. The teachers in leggings might be more competent than the teachers dressed well but 50% of the adult population (men) probably won't think so.

While the women in these roles are very good at what they do and worth far more than what they are paid, their appearance doesn't help project that image. Men are still running things and men are far more visual compared to women.

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AyeFartedOnSantasLap · 09/12/2011 13:24

Men are not more visual than women.

Want2bSupermum, are you Bonsoir's US cousin? Grin

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verysmellyeli · 09/12/2011 13:43

Grin at Bonsoir's cousin - I was thinking the same thing......

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Pantofino · 09/12/2011 14:52

And me Grin I personally couldn't give a toss what dd's teacher wears. I would expect her to be neat and clean, but at the end of the day she is educating and doing activities with 7yos. My dd comes home filthy most days. I would expect her teacher to be wearing something comfortable and practical.

"They are very well respected in the community and parents, including myself, approach them for help with raising their children. The teachers in leggings might be more competent than the teachers dressed well but 50% of the adult population (men) probably won't think so."

What the hell IS this? You see a teacher in a smart jacket and go ask them for parenting advice?

want2b, I am astounded that you cannot see the irony in what you have posted. I think YOU are judging these women much more than a man would.

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Pantofino · 09/12/2011 15:01

I am glad that my employer concentrates on doing what it can to redress the male/female balance by encouraging women into ICT jobs - they are very underepresented on the IT engineering side particularly - in Belgium only about of 3% of graduates in this field are female.

What they DON'T have is a dress code. Grin

All this talk of women dressing for success and needing to be told how to do so, so that men will think them professional - well that to me is a step in the wrong direction.

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Pantofino · 09/12/2011 15:02

Why don't my Xmas Grin work?

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thetasigmamum · 09/12/2011 15:04

I have just (literally - 5minutes ago) been invited to do a thing which will be very visible indeed. I will be the only woman among maybe 9 or so men involved in this thing. I can't be more specific about what the thing is, for fear of making it too easy to identify myself. If the truth be known, I'd much rather not do this thing. I don't mind having my name all over everywhere, professionally, on stuff I've written for example (and I do mean everywhere, not just the UK). But being filmed is slightly different. Especially now I realise that I will be being judged for my lack of grooming. Good thing grooming wasn't a criterion for selection for the thing.

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Pantofino · 09/12/2011 15:11

Ooh how exciting theta!

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thetasigmamum · 09/12/2011 15:25

Xmas Grin It's not exciting really, in and of itself. But it is relevant to the topic of this thread. I very nearly said no, because it might be really embarrassing. But I said yes because of this thread, and Kira Cochrane's article. So if it's a disaaaaaaaaster then I will know who to blame. ;)

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AyeFartedOnSantasLap · 09/12/2011 15:27

YAY!!!

Nice one, theta.

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Quodlibet · 09/12/2011 16:25

An overarching way of looking at things might be that there is a very clever conspiracy going on that seeks to suck women's economic power and confidence by making them feel like they MUST use up their money and energy on things that 'enable' them live up to an ever-changing, never-obtainable standard of 'presentable'.

'Quick! Women have got some economic power! Think up some useless stuff for them to spend their money on, otherwise they might do something with it that will actually make them more powerful!'

There are far, far, far more important directions I could be using my time and money than new high heels and a blow-dry. If we clubbed together all the money wasted on manicures and Babyliss Big Hairs and SlimFast and tight shoes that we never wear, we could buy tracts of land, or majority shares in companies, or time for ourselves to politically campaign. Or martial arts classes.

(btw Well done theta. You can bet your bottom dollar none of the 9 men on your panel will give more than a cursory thought to how 'groomed' he will be for the thing. And no, they probably won't be judged for it either.)

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thetasigmamum · 09/12/2011 16:33

Quodlibet You have certainly got a very good point there. Laboratoire Garnier are my evil nemesis. Action liposomes and similar fake science are a long running joke in this house. Grin My husband occasionally moans about the amount of money he estimates I spend on books (I suspect his estimate is low, incidentally Grin ). I always point out to him that if he was married to a 'proper woman' then I'd be spending a fortune on expensive clothes, slap, hair products, manicures etc. Of course I'm doing myself a disservice there in a way, because I'm allowing myself, even in jest, to fall into want2b's straitjacket of what a proper woman should be. Sadly I;m used to being labelled not a real or proper woman due to my size (I'm skinny).

We women really like to focus a lot of our energy on destabilising ourselves rather than the men, don't we! Grin

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thetasigmamum · 09/12/2011 16:35

Incidentally two of the men involved are very good friends of mine and both have been joking about booking themselves in for facelifts before the thing happens. Grin

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verysmellyeli · 09/12/2011 17:04

Way to go theta!

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brdgrl · 09/12/2011 17:07

congrats, theta, i hope it goes well!

quodlibet, exactly! - and i am surprised no one has mentioned it on this thread already, but that is a major part of Naomi Wolf's argument in The Beauty Myth, which is 20 years old by now, and should be mandatory reading for (ahem) certain posters everyone.

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thetasigmamum · 09/12/2011 17:21

verysmelly its not in the next month- not happening till next year.

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Want2bSupermum · 09/12/2011 18:02

Theta Congrats on the invite to the panel. Hope it goes well.

Quodlibet I have already bought tracts of land (two homes plus land in upstate NY that we will build a lake house on) and I have a % of a small business in lieu of wages.

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brdgrl · 09/12/2011 19:04

i really don't think that was the point, want2be. Confused

whatever one's individual economic status, and no matter whether one has $5 of disposable income or $5000, the point is about the impact on women as a class of people.

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radiohelen · 09/12/2011 19:32

Go theta you will rock it. No stripes.. it really makes the camera lense go funny and if you are sitting, sit on the back of your jacket (if you are wearing one) It gets rid of the weird pucker of fabric at the back of your neck when you sit down.

"Motherhood itself should be seen as a positive learning experience to be valued by bosses." Um why? The fact that I managed to give birth successfully has NOTHING to do with my work.

panto I meant the whole experience of motherhood, managing kids diaries, organisational skills, budgeting, scheduling, researching, multi-tasking, resourcefulness and all that - not just pushing out your sprog, although I think that also counts under the categories of working under pressure, determination, preparatory skills, physical endurance and communication. They might not directly be part of your job but at some time or another they will come in useful at work Xmas Grin

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Xenia · 09/12/2011 21:15

brd, quoting me, I know a lot of people like that. I've worked with a lot of scientists over the years. They are great people with whom to work and a lot of them are not interested in money but are in their subject. There's nothing wrong with that at all.

If we want women to be visible though we need them to push themselves forward. I am sure I was a bit nervous when I first started doing public things. I'm not at all now. it's just a question of getting used to it.

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Pantofino · 09/12/2011 22:03

radio, I agree - being a WOHM has certainly honed my organisational skills Grin

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Pantofino · 09/12/2011 22:16

Quodlibet, I think that men have become conditioned to expect women to look "nice". Add this to the requirement that you must look "professional"

So I am reckonining that a nice suit (to dress more like men) and a demure blouse/low cut top (depending on whether you are top lawyer/admin), stockings and heels (because heels make your legs look longer) and make up (well just because noone wants to work with an ugly old boot...) is the ideal.

For whom?

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thetasigmamum · 09/12/2011 22:40

I never ever wear a suit. Haven't done so for years and years. I'm too small. I look like I'm wearing my mother's clothes. I tend to wear either skinny trousers (not jeans and they don't look skin tight on me) with as many layers of top and jumper and cardigan as are necessary (I'm very nesh, me) or above the knee dresses (essentially, LBDs) in soft fabrics with as many jumpers/cardys etc etc.

I never wear heels. Dyspraxia and heels are a bad combination. I wear minimal makeup - I'm a ginge and I have very pale skin so I tend to go for tinted moisturizer or even non tinted (but factor one billion sun protection even in winter). I don't bother with eye make up - I wear glasses and I have allergies. Also, the hair is so ....much....that anything else would be overkill except on days when I completely scrape it back and hide it all under a band and in a bun.

If you're good enough, what you look like ceases to be a thing pretty early on. So long as you don't smell. Grin

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Pantofino · 09/12/2011 23:33

Yes - smelling bad is not good. I notice that several people in my office wear the same clothes ALL the time.

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