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Why are there not more women in positions of influence?

Diane Hall

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Portrait of happy female CEO holding tablet computer and smiling over blue studio background.

I’ve recently seen a lot of memes, on the back of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, that compare negative traits women are perceived to have with the devastation men have brought to the world.


Counteracting the view of misogynists, women in these memes are portrayed as hysterical, intellectually inferior, bitchy, manipulative beings…but underneath, a banner says, ‘However, women have never started any wars or killed millions of innocent people’.


Quite.


Sometimes, women can be all those things mentioned above; however, I’m quite sure no female would choose to cause as much destruction as men have, just for the sake of their ego. Every war we learn about in history lessons was started by a man, or men.


It’s not that women are holier than thou. In every woman’s jail, you’ll find evil, violent, ruthless women—it’s not as if it’s impossible for the fairer sex to portray such traits, though it is less likely.


Setting aside global politics, men dominate the upper echelons of the workplace. Only 8% of CEOs are female, and many of these are only in this position because they founded the company. Women make up less than 40% of boards and just 45% of non-executive directors.


Given that most women work nowadays, and thus have income to spend, it seems short-sighted to me to not have a woman in a position of influence within every company. How can a man understand how women think? How can a man understand how a women’s buying decisions come about? This isn’t to say women should replace men, but I’d imagine it would positively impact a company’s bottom line if there was equal representation of men and women, given that the latter represent the larger ‘race’ in the UK…51% of the country’s population is, or identifies as, female. That women should be better represented in positions of influence isn’t just a marketing exercise, therefore, but common sense.

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Portrait of serious female CEO with smart watch sitting at desk and holding eyeglasses

Portrait of serious female CEO with smart watch sitting at desk and holding eyeglasses

Only a third of MPs are female, with just 26% of leading cabinet roles held by women. Women make up just 28% of the House of Lords. 36% of women are in the clergy and 30% are judges in the UK. Just 27% of women hold influential positions in the media. And whilst it’s great that our head of state is a woman, she’s there by the fortune of her birth—she doesn’t have any real power or influence in the twenty-first century.


I could cover specific industries, but it could be argued that there are as many sectors that are female-heavy, and as I’m writing about roles that bear influence, it’s the statistics already mentioned that are of particular interest. When it comes to shaping policy, laws and processes that affect the majority of the population, these things are predominantly decided by men. When it comes to reforming and rehabilitating those who inflict pain on our society, this is decided by men. Our country’s faith is largely directed by men. The news we consume is mostly created and delivered by men. The design of even the simplest of everyday items are by men, as well as items that are meant to ensure our safety, as depicted in this article.


It’s a sad fact: women have little influence. Though we may have more now than we’ve ever had over the last two millennia, it’s not enough.


I won’t go too deeply into it, because I’ll only get shouted down—but the furore around JK Rowling’s views on women (and transwomen) are relevant here. Those in support of Rowling’s stance agree that women’s rights are being eroded from our society. A woman’s right to privacy, a woman’s right to feel safe, a woman’s right to compete against their physical equals in sport… Rowling’s words are often seen as an attack on transwomen’s rights rather than what they could also be seen as: ensuring CIS women are second-class (if not third-class) citizens.


Misogyny is ingrained in our society, despite women having fought for years to be seen as equals. The picture I’ve painted here shows that we have a long way to go in this regard. It’s still a man’s world…

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