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Why are we still talking about gender?

By Emma Harvey

January 31, 2012 | 3 min read

Following two blogs on the subject of gender, Emma Harvey, managing director at Numiko, offers her opinion on the great debate.

It was interesting reading Gail Parminter’s article, and Alan Rogan’s hilarious follow up, but seriously, why are we still talking about this?

For any women that haven’t, you must get your hands on a copy of Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and read it immediately. I’m glad to say that the world described in it is utterly unrecognisable, and those still complaining about sexism should take a bit of time to educate themselves and understand just how far society has come in the last 60 years.

I don’t believe that only women can come up with great creative campaigns targeted at women; in fact quite often ‘presumed expertise’ can be a barrier to a truly great creative idea. OK, so men don’t have periods, but then who is to say that one woman’s experience of them is the same as another's?

The real issue that we need to tackle is our industry’s overtime culture and lack of flexibility with regards to working hours – and it’s not just women, as the traditional primary care givers, who would benefit from a rethink.

I’ve seen lots of great career-minded women go for the ‘easy option’ when they hit their late twenties, and start looking for a role with good maternity benefits and that won’t make demands on their time that are incompatible with being present to raise a family. Equally, I’ve seen plenty of ambitious males of a similar age opting for a salary and job security over following their dreams and starting the next big .com success.

I personally would love to see more male account handlers, and more female programmers, but simply complaining about gender imbalances isn’t going to help. We need more positive education and role models when children are at school.

I’m not saying sexism doesn’t exist – having a baby-face and being in possession of ovaries was a double whammy early in my career when going to talk to largely male audiences about the (then) new fangled internet, and I collected a number of pretty farcical anecdotes about sexism, idiocy and general barriers to credibility I faced – but when I stopped perceiving my gender as a problem, it stopped being a problem.


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