Sexist voodoo or reality check?

It is all too easy to dismiss the 1950s tone of much of Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine, Catherine Hakim’s study for the Centre for Policy Studies, as retrogressive twaddle, and its barmier suggestions have already been discussed here.

But I have now carefully read all 52 pages and there is one substantive strand to her argument that I agree with wholeheartedly.

Some years ago, an eminent old university friend of mine working in infertility research said far too many research pounds and hours were spent examining data derived from infertile rather than fertile couples. Learn from success, was his basic message.

Mentioning last November’s FT Women at the Top ranking magazine and conference, Hakim argues that:

“such events do more to support and promote women of all ages and in all walks of life than mandatory female quotas for company boards that few can see”.

Further on, she says:

“Despite the brief history of Chinese capitalism, there are substantial numbers of Chinese women who own and run their own global companies, self-made millionaires who got there without any artificial aids. Why is it that women are better able to zoom ahead in China than in Japan, in the US than in continental Europe? Why have so many European companies found it beneficial to import American women CEOs to revitalise companies, or board members to meet quotas? Addressing these questions would be rather more informative for future action than reporting annual league table statistics on the progress of gender equality in Europe.”

I agree.

By focusing on individuals, companies and cultures that show women performing at the very highest levels, we may gain better insight into how to replicate that success rather than simply analysing what is not working.

My university friend was right: we need to learn from success.

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