Where are the women? | City Eye Blog

Women1stEventpicMore women. More visible women. More women on boards, more women on bank notes.

Few people noticed the furore over the bank decision to drop Elizabeth Fry from the bank note and replace her with Churchill. The head of the Bank of England, hadn’t even considered a woman.

Not on his horizon. Invisible women, why we need more visibility.

Try another country. CityEye recently flew to Australia with Qantas. The 380 airbus was the original Nancy Bird, named after one of the earliest women aviators. The plane was flown by a woman, briefly interviewed in the cockpit, but not announced over the intercom. Qantas may have 20% women pilots, but rarely will you hear the announcement: “This is your captain speaking.” in a woman’s voice.

However, once in the land of opportunity, every time you go to pay, especially the $100 note, there is a woman’s face. Every Australian bank note has a woman’s face and has done since 1967. They are even a currency you might say.

Here, it seems that there is a problem with the bank putting a female artist on the next note, “due to the relatively low number of women who could qualify”, history scholars have warned.

Prof Lynda Nead, at Birkbeck, said it was unlikely that another female face would be on the UK’s currency. “Visual arts seem to particularly lag behind when it comes to women, compared with other cultural pursuits like writing,” she said.

A strange version of history which reads only men. Could it be because like Rosa Franklin, Fanny Mendelssohn,, et al, they have been largely under-rated, ignored or written out of history?

A recent article encouraging more women in Sport, by Gaby Logan, sports reporter and prominent commentator, received a tweet to the effect that her opinion was not required and she should get back to the kitchen. Twitter seems to be the weapon of choice for castigating women, so it would appropriate if it was used to suggest other women for the bank notes.

Recently in Australia, every $100 note I cashed reminded of Nellie Melba, while the $50 had Edith Cowan, first woman elected to Australian Parliament, $20 Mary Gilmore poet and journalist, and finally the $5 had a Scottish born Australian , Catherine Helen Spence, who amongst other things was a suffragist. On notes since 1975. England has a long way to go to catch up.

What better way to make women more visible, possible role models, than every time you make a cash purchase, you are reminded of women’s’ achievements.

Women need to be more visible.

How will we get more women on boards and in public, professional, political life, if these attitude go unchallenged? There is of course a woman on all coinage, the monarch, but so air brushed and idealized as to rival the “model”, not role models, to which young women are expected to aspire.

It may be necessary to act quickly, as we head towards a cashless society, and it is unlikely that the credit cards of the future will have any kind of human image, either male or female.

If Twitter is the weapon of choice,for sending us back to the kitchen. Why not turn the tables? If you tweet or re-tweet, how about choosing your favourite artist. They can also be sculptors, printmakers, designers, craftspeople, ceramicists, architects, fashion designers, photographers and filmmakers ( strangely no musicians).

Barbara Hepworth would be a good choice,but it would also be useful to get solidly behind one choice.

The furore when Elizabeth Fry was removed, got a 35, 000 petition sent to the bank, and it is likely Mark Carney is listening, since he is Canadian and has 4 daughters.

You have until July 19th.

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About the author

City Eye became interested in Overlooked and Overshadowed women, both in contemporary times and through out history. The former would include the women passed over for the Nobel in favour of their male colleagues. The later would be the wives of famous men, such as Mrs. Mandela. Her study of women written out of history, led her to interviews with interesting and inspirational women, (and some men). Extracts will be published in the articles. In no way is this men versus women, as to who is better. Simply that an overly macho, military, testosterone fueled environment, mainly men, needs the balancing attributes, often, though not exclusively, assigned to women: caring, conciliation, communication. Find out more: City Eye Blog ©christina ionthecity.wordpress.com

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