Last week we published a thought-provoking article written by Ruby Hamad about the fact that, often, men’s voices are still heard more loudly on women’s issues than women themselves.
While at first this might seem counterintuitive, or even unlikely, it actually makes perfect, albeit frustrating, sense. It simply depicts the fact that the combination of all of the conscious and unconscious biases that create and perpetuate the gaps between men and women in society exist. It is obviously more complex than this but broadly speaking a male’s perspective on any issue is weighted more heavily than a woman’s because men remain the dominant gender.
It’s another reason why it’s critical that men who are concerned with eliminating gender inequality in all of its guises speak up. This is why I was heartened on Friday to see a number of men and women share, like, tweet and discuss a column written by Sam de Brito. De Brito questioned why the appointment of Dr Janet Yellen as the head of the US Federal Reserve had received so little media attention. He compared the sparse media coverage given to Yellen’s significant promotion with the outfit Miranda Kerr wore to the Golden Globe Awards. While Yellen, and similarly accomplished women including the incoming Coca-Cola Amatil chief executive Alison Watkins and Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly, are routinely confined to the business pages models like Kerr and Jennifer Hawkins are front-page news. His piece was persuasive.
De Brito stated the root of his personal discontent quite plainly “… as the father of a young girl, I find it frustrating there is so little media curiosity about what drives and informs these incredible women.” Having a daughter — or even a niece, a sister or a granddaughter — can be awakening. Because it can fix your gaze on the way the world views and treats women and what you see is not always pretty.
So much of what we publicly celebrate and acknowledge about women concerns their physical appearance. Being beautiful is seemingly still the pinnacle of a female’s achievements and, as I have written before, there is nothing beautiful about that. Aside from the impact it has on adult women it is particularly invidious for young girls. Young women who need to know that their worth is not defined by their physical appearance. That the sum of their life is not the sum of their body parts.
I agree with Sam de Brito wholeheartedly that this is a topic that deserves considerable attention. It is one of the reasons Women’s Agenda exists. This website is a platform to celebrate and facilitate the success of women, particularly in the workplace. The saying goes ‘we can’t be what we can’t see’. What we see most is a barrage of images of actors and models and musicians, more often than not conforming to impossible physical standards of beauty, but the vast majority of men and women can’t be that.
The good news is what they can be and do is far more diverse than what is being portrayed to them. Which is why, this year, we are going to increase our coverage of real role models. Of women who work as doctors or engineers or architects or scientists. Women who run hospitals or hedge funds or childcare centres. Women who do any of the varied, valuable and important jobs that you, our readers, do. So if you are one, or you know of a woman, who is doing something fantastic we would like to feature them here.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and put Role Models in the subject line so we can start inspiring the future generation of women with real role models.