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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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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 21:37

I am not arguing the reality Wink. But this this is the Feminism topic so it is reasonable to ask why it is that what you wear is remotely important? "Her appearance demonstrates competence" - what does that MEAN?

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thetasigmamum · 08/12/2011 21:41

want2bsupermum I'm very glad you are completely wrong about appearance and credibility. :) Like many dyspraxics even if I start the day looking vaguely ok it's all gone tits up by 10. :(

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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 21:42

Here's Bill Gates in a nice jumper. Does the nice jumper detract from him being one of the most mega rich and successful people in the world?

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Want2bSupermum · 08/12/2011 21:44

It means she looks like she knows what she is doing.

The only thing scruffy about Tony Blair was his hair. Gordon Brown was always very neat in his appearance. Boris Johnson looks scruffy and I think it affects his perceived competence. When you see a picture of a CEO what do they look like? Normally very neat, normal to overweight but not obese with ironed clothes.

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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 21:51

But that is the whole point (or at least a big part it) of this thread! People are judged by what they LOOK like, not what they do! "Margaret Beckett always looked like a mess and I think it affected her perceived competence negatively." Her perceived competence? What about her REAL competence? She was good at her job or she wasn't. That has nothing at all to do with the clothes she was wearing at the time.

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Want2bSupermum · 08/12/2011 21:54

Panto That picture demonstrates my point. His hair is tidy, his glasses are clean and not bent out of shape, his shirt is ironed and his hands are neat.

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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 21:55

Women say that they don't put themselves forward to go on TV because they fear being judged. Because how they look might be more important than whatever message they hope to purvey. Want2b - don't you think it sad, as a female, that you are pushing that very point?

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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 22:00

Bill, in that picture, looks like any number of the men I work with. Most of us go to work with ironed clothes and clean hands. But he gets up on the podium in his purple jumper and the world listens. That is to do with who he is and what he does, and NOT how he is dressed.

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Want2bSupermum · 08/12/2011 22:00

Panto My point is that if women are going to become more visible in society then we not only have to be good at what we do but we have to look the part too. Margaret Beckett wasn't my cut of tea but I thought she was very competent but not give the respect she deserved. I think the lack of respect happened in part because of her appearance.

Also, clothing is one part of appearance. The majority of my time and effort is spent on grooming.

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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 22:08

So Margaret Beckett is very competent at what she does? What does her outfit have to do with that? So what should change in this scenario then?

Margaret Beckett does a good job. Margaret Beckett needs a "stylist". Or We should stop judging competent women by what clothes they happen to be wearing as it affects their actual competence not one jot.????

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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 22:12

The UK NEEDS more female MPs. But obviously they must be smart and look a certain way otherwise their ability to do their job will be judged by other women!!!! Sad

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Want2bSupermum · 08/12/2011 22:18

I think you are missing my point. Men who go on television as experts are also judged on their appearance.

In my effort to push women to the forefront, I would always bring in women to interview if I thought they might have the right experience for the job. A few times they would arrive and their appearance wasn't right but they were perfect for the role. Rather then let them get slaughtered at the next round I would tell them nicely what they should change in both their CV and appearance. 9 times out of 10 the girls would make the changes and get the job or be in serious consideration for it.

Trust me when I say it wasn't the CV changes alone that got them the offer or consideration.

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thetasigmamum · 08/12/2011 22:25

want2bsupermum Please believe me that grooming will not give you success as an auditor. It really won't.

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Want2bSupermum · 08/12/2011 22:31

No I agree that grooming won't give me success an auditor, but when I look at those who are senior managers, partners and directors not only do I see competence but also men and women who are groomed. Those who are not groomed sit in quality control and are not visible. They are just as competent but clients don't see them.

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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 22:48

Did you do the same for the men, or were they all perfect?

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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 22:49

I really don't like the word "groomed"

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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 22:50

Again you are judging people's worth by their appearance. It is nasty!

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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 22:52

"9 times out of 10 the girls would make the changes and get the job or be in serious consideration for it.">

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Want2bSupermum · 08/12/2011 22:54

Most men didn't need help. A couple of guys were in need of a hair cut, polished shoes, their trouser hem taken up and one guy didn't have a tie on. I pointed this out to them. On the whole men were often better turned out then the women.

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Xenia · 08/12/2011 22:56

Employers do. I've had comments about my breasts from enthusiastic followers of some work stuff on youtube which of course is very funny as I'm known for others areas of my competence and I don't mind at all but yes if you want to get on in many careers you need to look okay (and I accept there are lots of fat ugly female and male authors around as you don't have to go out and persuade people to want you etc - and I am thinking Salman R and women too)

I think it's a great pity if a thread about how women can be more visible has to be discussing women being groomed however. The reason women are not visible is they do not push themselves forwards as experts in their field and too many leave to become housewives. The ones who do push forward to be on TV etc etc tend usually to get their clothes right. It's a tiny part of success. In fact it is another area women can win over men actually - we tend to look better and we have "erotic capital" in spades.

So if you're very very good, also very reliable and "show up" and do what you say come hell and high water, if you're stoic and robust with lots of self confidence plus you have the erotic capital too - gosh no wonder once you discount those who aren't very bright or are lazy or weight 20 stone or dont' wear the right clothes, it is not that hard to do reasonably well even if you have my deficiencies.

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Pantofino · 08/12/2011 23:09

erotic capital!!!!!! FFS,

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thetasigmamum · 08/12/2011 23:11

Believe me, I'm visible. And the top US women I know - big 4 partners, highly prestigious people in the profession - are way too busy to spend time on grooming. The ones who spend any significant time on grooming never get to the level where I will ever have anything to do with them.

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kickassangel · 08/12/2011 23:28

I think that it is perfectly legitimate to say that to really succeed in work, it should at least look as if you've bothered to be tidy and presentable. To not reach a certain minimum standard does look as if you're really don't care about your job, you're deliberately attempting to buck the system, or you are so unaware that you haven't even noticed how other people dress.

The problem is when the way people are dressed becomes sexist of itself, e.g. women have to wear make-up/have their hair tied back, wear heels etc. I can't think of an equivalent for men, which is why there's an issue with it.

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sakura · 09/12/2011 03:05

page 80 "Loving to Survive":

"Oskamp notes that "women workers with a bachelor's degree earn $616 less per year than male workers who have not completed high-school."

"It is an often-repeated finding that, as the proportion of women in a field increases, the wage level decreases"

Teaching and clerical work (secretaries) used to be male dominated professions, were paid well, and highly respected. When women entered those fields the value (and pay) of the work dropped dramatically. (Or is it that women were only able to enter them once their value had dropped?)
The same process is happening in medicine now.
WHat women do is not valued because it's women doing it, and the work is paid accordingly.

It's utter nonsense to say "women should try harder" when you see the statistics, and when you see what we're up against.

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brdgrl · 09/12/2011 06:20

I'm joining this way too late (and way too late at night), and probably the moment to reply to Xenia's post (way, way up-thread) is past - but I will,. anyway.

I am afraid I am continously appalled by women including on mumsnet who choose ot be home cleaning up the house and wiping babies; b ottoms and leaving their husbands to advance to positions of power. Women will never never get very far at all as long as so very very many husbands have low or no earning wife at home or in part time pin money work and husband putting his all into a career. You need to take action on a personal basis today and aim to out earn your man
Afraid I can't see it your way, I'm sorry. I have zero interest in out-earning DH, or anyone else for that matter. That's not where our power (as women OR as human beings) necessarily lies.
DH and I are in the same field. We are both finishing doctorate degrees while we work PT, and we both have childcare responsibilities. He has older kids (my stepkids) and we have a baby together. I do most of the baby care, while he does most of the parenting of the older kids.
I recognize that we are in many ways not a typical example of marriage, but the thing is - our lifestyle suits us. Neither one of us wants a high-powered career and we both love our life within the home. (Before we were together, DH was a lone parent and a SAHD.) Don't get me wrong, we both love our work, and obviously we want to be respected for it. But the rewards are something altogether different, and less driven by ambition or external trappings of 'power'.
I think what we are doing, and what other families like us are doing, is rethinking the entire notion of success and power. I believe and hope that we are both able to participate in the public and the private spheres, this way. It is certainly true that we need more women in positions of public influence, but my point, I think, is that the way forward does not necessarily lie in every woman leaving home to try and out-earn "their" man as if this were a feminist duty. Maybe the answer is in more men staying at home?

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