The Trouble With Working Women Review: Why Can’t A Woman Succeed Like A Man?

May 18, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

thetroublewith-300x210 THE TROUBLE WITH WORKING WOMEN: WHY CAN’T A WOMAN SUCCEED LIKE A MAN? Monday 18th May, BBC2, 9.00pm Alert Me

As OTB’s official pseudo-feminist (aka the only woman on the team) and a firm believer in gender equality, I found my views both challenged, confused and yet somehow solidifed by Sophie Raworth and Justin Rowlatt’s documentary.

It made me feel like I was back in the (female dominated) lectures for Gender and The Law, mentally shaking my fist at the UK’s super low rape conviction rate and becoming aware that ambition would forever be my Achilles heel – a quality that all women need to eventually break the glass ceiling, but also a polarising emotion interminably associated with masculinity.

The belief that a woman needs to “do as a man does” to¬† achieve the same success is ultimately false, because as the footage shows; a female surgeon vying for a top position is single with no prospect of having children in the near future, whereas an older male collegue is married with five kids. The conclusion being that, for certain women, its impossible to replicate the actions of a male counterpart.

Although we have come a long way in terms of gender equality, there is still a lot of work to be done. The footage showed top surgeons and police officers advocating that women are just as capable as men to do work that has been traditionally associated with men. Problems start to arise when women reach childbearing age – as offensive managers like Sylvia Tidy-Harris actively discriminate against women who leave the workplace to have children.

Frustratingly, institutional sexism prevails, even Rowlatt assumes that a floor of female workers “must be the secretarial team”. One city worker speaks of the Hermione Granger syndrome – where a woman suggests an idea but no one gives it credit unless it is later repeated by a man – something I have experienced on countless occasions whilst temporarily working as a PA.

Yet, for a programme which explores why women can’t succeed in the same way as men there is little discussion of the individual nature of success. For some women success means having it all – a good job, a family and a struggle to achieve the perfect work/life balance, for others it means striving for the perfect career, without having the time to think about a partner or children. But for many women, success is still based on raising a family.

As one contributor states, many people forget that without women their wouldn’t be people to drive the economy. Perhaps one day, ladies, we’ll get the credit we deserve.

Sally McIlhone