International Women’s Day

Source: Economist

Source: Economist

On International Women’s Day, I’ve been too busy enjoying the various panels at All About Women to write anything particularly deep or meaningful. So here are a few links.

First, just as last year, The Economist has published a glass ceiling index. Sadly, Australia has dropped down this year below the OECD average. As last year, Australia’s best attribute is our percentage of women in senior managerial positions at 36.7% of the total (a number that seems suspiciously high to me, but we will let that slide).

The great thing about this index is that is combining a number of attributes of gender equality, focused mostly on public and corporate life, rather than being one particular issue. As always, the Scandinavians come out on top.

Second, I was lucky enough to attend the All About Women festival in Sydney today. So here are a few interesting links from the various panels I watched.

The most impressive person I saw was Anita Sarkeesian. As a result of her Tropes vs Women series on video games,

Attackers sent Sarkeesian rape and death threats, hacked her webpages and social media, and distributed her personal information. They posted disparaging comments online, vandalized Sarkeesian’s article on Wikipedia with racial slurs and sexual images, and sent Sarkeesian drawings of herself being raped by video game characters. One attacker created the computer game Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian, which prompted players to bloody a picture of Sarkeesian by clicking the mouse. 

(all this from Wikipedia, which has its own issues with women, but can probably be trusted on this one) .

After all this, Sarkeesian is even more impressive in person than in her videos, calmly analysing the distressing video gaming culture that has led to her being accompanied everywhere she goes by bodyguards due to the death threats she gets daily just for daring to critique gaming (there were police outside the theatre where she was presenting). Go and watch her series.

Also worth searching out are my perennial favourite – Annabel Crabb – who was part of a panel asking Can Men’s Roles Change, along with Brigid Schulte and Graeme Russell. Interestingly, one theory about why the Scandinavians always top gender equity scores came from this panel –  the theory being that they recognised early on how much economic benefit there was in getting women working (for pay) as much as men. And finally Roxane Gay is a feminist I’ve been meaning to read for ages, but seeing her speak in person has finally made me buy her book. I’ll report back here once I’ve read it. I expect to have a few things to say, as Gay was very thoughtful in answer to audience questions on whether it was worth leaning in, if corporate culture was as toxic as it seems to be, and how you should decide whether to speak up as a feminist in a toxic male dominated culture such as might exist in financial markets or tech organisations.

Happy International Women’s Day to all my readers (male or female), and remember what Rebecca West had to say about feminism:

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.