I’m Full of Modesty and Low Ambition

I read this in yesterday’s Sunday Times but the link is to the Daily Male (due to the Times’s pay wall).  Naturally, the Male story doesn’t cover the facts as well, but it’ll have to do.

The Institute of Leadership and Management questioned 2,960 women in various managerial roles to explore, according to ILM’s website, ‘the hurdles women face along their career path, and [to] identify the factors that create the glass ceiling effect that many women managers encounter.’

The result?

From The Times: ‘The glass ceiling may be all in the mind.  A lack of ambition and self-confidence, rather than overt male sexism, is holding women back from senior management roles..’

Which is convenient, because it means it’s all women’s own fault.  Again.  Stupid bovines the lot of us.

And the reason for this ‘lack of ambition and self-confidence’?  Institutionalised sexism?  Negative stereotypes so strong that even women believe women to be less able than men?  Working environments run according to patriarchal rules?  Societal expectations that women will be the ones looking after children, expectations so entrenched that we don’t even have the phrase ‘working father’ in our lexicon?  Ha!  No, ‘experts’ believe this state of affairs is, again, women’s own fault:

‘Experts believe a principal reason for women’s lower ambition is that men are more likely to define their success in life in terms of work achievement, while for women other factors such as raising a family play a far bigger role.’

Where to start?  Well, first off, our dear friend Catherine Hakim is quoted later in the piece, so I think we can know how we feel about the ‘experts’ referred to.  Secondly, how does this explain a lack of self-confidence?  And thirdly, what a pile of crap.  Does anybody know a working woman who defines her success in life as to whether and how she raises a family?  In a society which denigrates mothers on all fronts and which (thanks again to Condom Cameron), whilst trying to kick partnered women back in the kitchen as quickly and unceremoniously as possible, is simultaneously kicking single mothers off benefits if they refuse to get out of the kitchen and work for minimum wage, out of which wage of course they have to pay somebody else to look after their kids?  Jesus, I’d laugh if I wasn’t so busy having a hysterical rage episode.

Of course, women who happily take on the full time ‘wife and mother’ role (and there are some about), would, I imagine, view raising a family as their life success, but remember, we’re talking about working women here, specifically women in management roles.  And, of course, if you work or not and want kids and can’t have them, then manage to have them, you would view that as a success in your life; a hurdle overcome as it were.  But a working women, at managerial level, defining her success in life by raising a family?  What a pile of shit.  Course, it actually should be considered a measure of success to raise the next generation, especially whilst juggling a full-time job, but it certainly isn’t in the world I live in.  Raising a family is just what you do.  It’s just what women do.  Raising a family successfully has no rewards in our society: no pay, no laudatory celebration, no time off.  No reward that is considered useful in a society in which stay at home mothers are considered to be non-people in terms of economics.  Ecomonically speaking, these women earn nothing and voila! therefore contribute nothing to GDP and so don’t count (although if you want to find out how they should count, talk to Marilyn Waring).  If you’re lucky, successfully raising a family means you won’t die alone in a care home, but that seems too slim a reward for 20-plus years of hard graft to really count as ‘success’.  Conversely, if society deems you to be failing in raising a family – and it will, at some point, for something you did or didn’t do – it will heap opprobrium down on your head like a ton of shit bricks.  Given all this, who would be stupid enough to believe that raising a family defines their success?  Who among these working women, who we’re told lack self-confidence in spades, would be confident enough  to stick two fingers up to the world and say ‘My success is my family’?  The phrase, ‘I’m only a housewife and mother’ didn’t come from nowhere.

What these ‘experts’ actually mean is that if a working woman has kids and stays at work full-time and still manages to recognise her off-spring at weekends, and doesn’t feel too guilty that she never took them to Gymboree, and her husband didn’t run off with the nanny, and her kids don’t end up on Jeremy Kyle and her working prospects and earnings don’t drop by too much, she views that as a success.

And that’s really not the same thing, is it?


About MistressofBoogie

Feminist. Loud-mouth. Sometimes those two are linked. Sometimes not. View all posts by MistressofBoogie

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