Apart from the idiocy and unfairness of one set of people having to change its behaviour to avoid being discriminated against by another set, plus the fact that it doesn’t work anyway, there are other huge issues with the “Why Can’t A Woman Be More Like A Man?” approach to overcoming gender discrimination. For starters, we’re looking at systemic, long-standing and widespread discrimination at all levels and then asking individuals to take action to overcome this. This seems like a fairly sizeable ask to me, particularly as overcoming said discrimination is touted as “too difficult” by the organisations themselves. They’re sort of saying “It’s too hard for us, you do it”.

And then add on the fact that overcoming said discrimination doesn’t buy you a place in the C Suite, just the right to fight for one along with everyone else. Or, indeed, to fight for less rarified prizes such as, oh I dunno, a bit more money and the occasional promotion, plus the right to tell Rob from accounts to bog off when he interrupts your project planning to ask if you can help him with the photocopier without him dubbing you a selfish harridan with no team spirit.

Nope, if even women can manage somehow to break through the barriers laid in their paths by discrimination, they’ve still gotta compete with everyone else for the prizes of more money, more status, a better job. It’s a bit like asking one competitor to run the 100 metres with a suitcase of bricks tied to their leg and then, when they come in way behind everyone else, telling them they’re not doing it right and why don’t they try running a bit faster?  The answer has to be “WELL MAYBE IF YOU’D TAKE THIS STUPID FRIGGING SUITCASE OFF MY LEG I COULD DO JUST THAT!!!!”.

This scenario does much to explain why so few women reach the very top. It’s not that they’re not good enough, so much as that they eventually just can’t drag the damn bricks any further.

More tomorrow.