Where are all the women?!
In all honesty, my hopes were mildly optimistic, bordering on realistic, when it came to the task of finding the beautiful women this website would celebrate – this essentially meant expectations of male-driven boards, but with a fairly noticeable sprinkling of women. Instead, I was greeted at every Google search with the same man.
Yep – Peter PPE-Degree-From-Oxford. Or was it Mark Mind-My-Porsche?
Where were all my fantastic career-driven women that I had so dreamed of typing into my email’s address box? And then I would see her, one amidst the shine of near-balding heads and Tory-blue ties, her presence powerful yet diluted. Disappointed but not disheartened, I continued, clicking through the boards of museums, hospitals, theatres, galleries, banks, firms, all with the same result. Each had a marked absence, an uncomfortable gap. Rather than motivated to picture myself, in all my sheer female-ness, in that void, I felt unsettled. What if I, in my pencil skirt and floor-tapping ballet pumps, strolled into that office: how would Peter One and Peter Two react? Was it Peter Six or Peter Seven who was coughing uncomfortably in the silence? Would Peter Nine try and continue his conversation about the Man-United match last night, much to the irritated glances from Peters Two-through-Five? And it was this awful little thought-process that meant I could see why women weren’t slowly infiltrating the pure white, male pool of senior executives.
The lack of visible, professional role models is a huge part of the problem. From a young age, we aspire to be the incredible women around us, whether that be a fairytale character, an actress or a politician, and this fluctuates as we develop into young, thinking women. However, when it comes to the more male-orientated careers that might take our fancy as we become a little older, we begin to run out of available women we can aspire to be. As you move further and further up the managerial ladder of responsibility, the female role models began to wane until we are left with only a handful to relate to, and when you look at the little number of women there are, we can only stop and think, ‘There is just no way I am great enough to get to the same place as that incredible woman.’ Because to see women on executive boards is a wonderful rarity, and they therefore become almost idolized in our minds, like superheroes with abilities us mere mortals will never grasp. This is something that can only be healed with time, and an eventual crawl towards equality across senior positions. She Works was created in the hopes of bridging that gap between the average woman and her potential role models.
Next time you find yourself flicking around Twitter on your phone outside a lecture theatre or in a dentist's waiting room, take a second to Google the executive committee of your nearest hospital. Or your local museum. I have clocked in hours of doing just that, and my findings inspired an entire website.