The Woman’s Hour Power List: is this really a case of too much of a metropolitan good thing? Perhaps the ‘Power List’ of 100 influential women would be less problematic if we women actually had more of the stuff it’s measuring. A Guardian article recently described the list as ‘patronising’ which seems overdoing it in a context of high female unemployment, and sexual harassment figures which indicate it’s by no means a matter of ‘case solved’ for British women. The collective sense of women as disadvantaged used to be a rallying point, and this sense of disadvantage does seem to have shifted, which is a good thing. But shifted to what? A situation where as long as you are educated and childfree you are all right? – lapse in either or both, and access to any Power List becomes much more precarious for many. Even this year the gender pay gap stands at 15% in the UK.
The Power List can show that women (some mothers) are achieving highly in the workplace and in terms of status; the real breakthrough will be when it doesn’t matter whether they are women or not. We don’t seem to be in that place yet, which is why we still need reminding. There are women out there – not necessarily always in the CEO posts – but who are at the heart of how and why their workplaces operate effectively, and who have innovated in specific fields, and the list should show them up. With more equally-shared parental leave (as in Scandinavia) more fathers and mothers could work more flexibly and spend less time in separate spheres. Then we might have a more level playing – and paying – field. In terms of future prospects perhaps I have to trust my son who’s in secondary school. He says that ‘in my generation we don’t think gender matters’ …. I’ll believe it fully when he can still say it aged 40. Until then keep reading – and discussing – the Power Lists.