It is strange, in a country which has had 3 most popular, long lived monarchs who were women, the persistence of the belief in general inferiority of skills and abilities of women is so firmly fixed in the psyche.
A young physics student found an anomaly in her sky observations which she showed her tutors. Much fun was made of the woman who was logging the “little green men”. But when it came to the awarding of a Nobel prize for the discovery of Pulsars, it was decided that a professor rather than a female student should accept the award.
It wouldn’t happen today would it?
Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Quaker, scientist and astronomer, extraordinaire, will be interviewed on Private Passions, Radio 3 this Sunday at 12pm. This column is always topical. She has many good suggestions and projects for getting more women into science but especially it’s about retention staying on, at all levels.
The BBC 4 programme on Suzie Wolf completing her test drive for Formula one had many male racing drivers expressed disbelief. Smaller in build, they felt she would need to have adapted exercises for training, but as she said she had to face the same challenges and G forces as the men, so press-ups it was. It was fascinating through the programme to watch male incomprehension slowly adjusting, until both Hamilton and Coulthard were proud to be colleagues. It was really strange to see how firmly embedded in the racing world that a woman could not compete, they almost couldn’t believe their eyes. Women in Journalism, Chair, Jane Martinson, invited James Harding, incoming head of BBC news, to a Q and A. He was able to admit that many of the Editors and Managers, previously at the Times, as at the BBC were highly talented and capable, but they are in the back room. The suggestion that they should be on the couch or presenting clearly perplexed him, you can’t just bring them out, he said. Those in front of the camera, must be the best person for the job, the implication being?! ( age and appearance was not mentioned.)
Newsnight over on BBC 2, presented by Emily Mattis, discussing more women in sport, with Harriet Harman and black sportswoman Louise Hazel. If you need to see a great role model, check out Louise Hazel’s website, http://louisehazel.com/. So is the BBC likely to throw off its misogynistic reputation and involve more women, or are their brains so hard wired as to be fixed?
Of course its all nonsense. Not all men think the same any more than all women, and no-ones brain is “wired” . Brains are not computers. Anyone who has followed Neuroscience for the last 20 years or so knows that the brain is plastic, it’s is infinitely adaptable and constantly creating new cells, according to Norman Doidge, a woman capable of re-creating the missing half of her brain.
What we have is a deeply embedded culture of beliefs, not necessarily misogynistic or prejudiced, just a lack of education and awareness, fossilized by tradition. So long as this country continues to believe that women are inferior, it is wasting over 50% of its resources, and falling behind in competition in the First world. Not just on boards, across the board. As David Cameron says
where the potential and perspective of women are locked out of the decisions that shape a society, that society remains stunted and underachieving
Of course we need the best experience and expertise for the job, just don’t exclude women from the short list.
Photos courtesy of Wikipedia
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