Sexism lives! – BOOK REVIEW


(From Audrey): During my banking career, I saw a lot of `glass ceiling’ situation. But that was years ago! Who would have thought that – for today’s emancipated females – the problem is alive and kicking. Have a look at this book review from CIPD:

CIPD “The girl will be off in six months to have babies and we will be back to square one.” Not a line from Call The Midwife, but the justification given recently by the sales director of a major international firm for not employing a female candidate in a senior position. And if that seems shocking, prepare to become rapidly inured to such ingrained sexism as this remarkable book unfolds.

Man-Made – subtitled “Why so few women are in positions of power” – positively bristles with examples of how our organisations are built by men, for men, becoming self-perpetuating patriarchies by default or design. Hours, social activities, hierarchies and even use of metaphor in the boardroom all serve to exclude women, and what’s worse nobody seems to care.

“Men in Britain seem to be content with the slow rate of change,” conclude the authors as they criticise the modest ambitions of official initiatives to redress the 80:20 gender split in senior positions. The tech industry, a chance at a clean slate, is the worst offender: “Give me a formal hierarchy any day over the fake democracy and pseudo-equality of this job,” laments one female employee.

The book details how we got to this point, taking in pay and promotion, maternity and even the role of body image in shaping women’s place at work. It is exhaustive but consistently revealing: the 100-plus interviewees lay bare shocking examples of sexism.

If Man-Made looks academic, it isn’t. But it is optimistic, finding hope in the business case for greater equality and predicting a bright future for a redefined feminist movement.

More input from men might have been nice, since those who feature are inevitably the villains of the piece – after all, if anyone is put off this title by its strident tone, they will be far the poorer for it.

Robert Jeffery, PM Magazine, 31 March 2015

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