Intolerance: Women Are Under Attack

Women are under attack -- they can't cook, drive, hack it in business and don't do science or football. But do the myths match the reality? Jessica Kiddle investigates DRIVING THE MYTH: Whether it's claims they drive too slow, accusations they can't reverse park, or jokes about them putting on their lipstick while stopped at traffic lights, men love the fact that women are renowned for being bad drivers, and Formula One driver Mr.Jenson Button appears to be no exception. In a recent interview with lads' mag 'FHM', Mr.Button said
'One week of the month you wouldn't want to be on the circuit with them, would you?' 'A girl with big boobs would never be comfortable in the car.'
THE REALITY: Ms.Fiona Leggate has been speeding around the track at 'The British Touring Car Championships' this year, she says Mr.Button is not the only one who thinks that way.
'As a woman in a male-dominated sport, you get these kind of comments, but, if Button had said that to my face, I would have just laughed at him. 'Anyone who agrees with him should come and see me -- or other top British women drivers such as Susie Stoddart and Katherine Legge -- race and they would soon change their minds. 'Comments like that just make me more determined to succeed and I have dedicated the last three years of my life to racing to get where I am. 'For racing you have to be mentally and physically fit because you have to be able to be give 100 per cent concentration while you are in the car, and you also need determination. 'None of these requirements are gender-specific.'
ADVERTISING THE MYTH: Women are wimps when it comes to the cut-throat world of advertising. So says Mr.Neil French, the former creative head of the world's biggest advertising group 'WPP', who told a conference in Toronto:
'Women don't make it to the top because they don't deserve to. They're crap.'' Mr.French resigned after making his feelings about his female colleagues known, but not before he had lambasted women for always giving up jobs to, as he put it, 'go suckle something'.
'It is true that there are fewer women than men high up in the creative sector of advertising but this is not because they can't take the pressure and go off and have babies,' says Ms.Debbie Klein, chief executive of advertising agency 'WCRS', whose client list includes 'BMW', 'Heinz' and 'Volvic'. 'Someone once told me "good ideas don't have genitals", so the suggestion that women are in any way inherently incapable of coming up with good ideas or can't make it in advertising is wrong. 'Part of the reason that there are fewer women than men in the creative sector is that people often hire in their own image and because there are lots of male creative directors they hire male teams. 'But there is no evidence to suggest that women are less creative than men. 'If you have the talent and the commitment, women have got the ability to get to the top. 'It is a notoriously tough industry with long hours and a brutal working culture, so it's not for "wallflowers", but there are more and more female role models in the business, showing that women can do it. 'In fact, some of the hottest young creative talents at the moment are women, but it will take a while for them to work up the ranks.'
COOKING THE MYTH: Women 'can't cook to save their lives' said British celebrity chef Mr.Gordon Ramsay this week in an interview with 'The Radio Times'. Although traditionally it has always been women who occupied the role of home-maker in society, Mr.Ramsay said that it is now men who are becoming the experts in the kitchen while women rely on ready-made meals and only know how to mix a cocktail. THE REALITY:
'While I think Ramsay is a wonderful cook, he is wrong on this point,' says food columnist and chef, Ms.Claire Macdonald, who has a 'Lifetime Achievement Award' from 'The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland'. 'Women have so many qualities that make them excellent cooks. 'Cooking also goes back to our roots; women are born nurturers and providers and can make good meals from the most basic ingredients. 'We also have a genetic advantage over men in that we can multi-task; women don't find it hard to think of more than one thing at once. 'So, in a restaurant, we can check what orders are coming in, remember how long something has been in the oven, as well as cooking at the same time. 'You don't have to look very far for examples of excellent female chefs either. Sally Clarke's restaurant in London is sublime, and Angela Hartnett is the executive chef at 'The Connaught' in London, which speaks volumes for her competency.'
SCIENCE THE MYTH: Only men are good at science. The view that only men can navigate their way around a 'periodic table', or use a 'Bunsen Burner', was once the a commonly held view in the upper echelons of this male-dominated discipline. Mr.Stephen Hawking, author of 'A Brief History of Time' and Lucasian professor of mathematics at 'Cambridge University', in an interview last month said:
'It is generally recognised that women are better than men at languages, personal relations and multi-tasking, but less good at map-reading and spatial awareness. 'It is therefore not unreasonable to suppose that women might be less good at mathematics and physics. 'It is not politically correct to say such things and the president of Harvard got in terrible trouble for doing so. 'But it cannot be denied that there are differences between men and women.'
THE REALITY: The dean of the faculty of Veterinary Medicine at 'The University of Glasgow', Ms.Andrea Nolan, was the first woman to be appointed dean of any veterinary school in the UK or Ireland. She is also a fellow of 'The Royal Society of Edinburgh' (Scotland's 'National Academy of Science and Letters'). She said:
'I just don't think because of the ways things have been in the past that's the way things are going to be in the future; 'At "Glasgow University", we have Christina Davis, the only female physics professor in Scotland, and bio-scientist Nancy Rothwell, who has recently been made a fellow at 'The Royal Society of London' (the UK's prestigious science academy), is a good female role model for young scientists,' 'It is quite a generalisation to suggest that 51 per cent of the human race isn't good at a certain subject, and it isn't so in my experience. 'Science demands a whole range of skills, including problem-solving, creativity, and the ability to negotiate between disciplines and fields. 'I can't understand why a woman wouldn't be able to meet these demands. 'We all have our strengths, but they are more unique to the individual than to a particular sex. 'I think the lack of women in the field has much to do with our preconditioning -- the idea that science is a man's field has been embedded in our "psyche" from an early age. 'There is also a lack of female role models in science with whom women can identify.'
FOOTBALL THE MYTH: Go into any living room or pub during a football match and you will hear glib comments about how football is a man's game. All men everywhere claim their 'other halves' don't understand the basic rules of the great game and are incapable of comprehending the infamous offside rule, let alone playing the sport. THE REALITY: In a survey conducted by the sports-bar chain 'Walkabout', only 55 per cent of men could correctly identify when a player was offside, compared with 59 per cent of women. Ms.Maureen Mcgonigle, the executive administrator of 'Scottish Women's Football', says this survey just proves how wrong men are.
'The sweeping generalisation that because you are a man you can do something, and because you are a women you can't is just ridiculous,' she says. 'The stuff about women not being able to play or understand football is really just something men like to say to give themselves an ego boost. 'It's a sport that is loved by all -- men love playing it and are passionate when they are watching it, so why shouldn't women feel exactly the same about it? 'Women are now prevalent at all levels in the sport and they are not there out of sympathy. 'They have the skills, knowledge and the expertise to understand the game as well as play it. 'If women's football continues to grow at the pace that it is growing now it will be one of the top sports in the country and both men and women will love, and understand, watching it.'
'Anything you can do', Jessica Kiddle, the Scotsman, 2005-10-28, Fr


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Button's comments seem fair enough to me. Who knew there were women racing drivers? Same with football. Yes, we know of women's soccer (because of Bend it Like Beckham, probaly), but it is unlikely to be on at the pub on a Saturday afternoon is it?

No one cares about advertising, I thought it was all women and gays, like hairdressing.

Science is not manly. Scientists are geeky freaks, and that includes female versions. Even though they are not gay, they are too ugly and too brainy to breed or have a life.

Girls were taught Home-Economics at school to prepare them to be mothers with families (in the days before take-aways and microwaves). Any boy who cooked was whipped and beaten for being gay and soft. The exception was cooking outdoors, in the army or running a restaurant.

To show how times have changed, and how hardly anyone cooks anymore, because of take-aways and microwaves, single parents and both parents working, a survey was done.

The comments made by Gordon Ramsey were prompted by the results of this survey which showed that the number of females cooking has dropped to below the number of men cooking.

Flat facts always win over high emotion. Maybe Jessica Kiddle was on her period, poor thing!

10/31/2005 12:49:00 am  

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