Without Maria Miller is there no room for outspoken women in Tory top seats?

Maria MillerWhen the position of Minister for Equalities and Women’s Minister was up for grabs following the resignation of Maria Miller from the cabinet last week, the big question in everyone’s mind was: Who would David Cameron choose to fill Miller’s shoes, especially with the election looming next year? There is a distinct lack of female representatives in Government with only 3 women running departments out of a possible 22. The Government is “out of touch with the reality of women’s lives and struggles” thinks Gloria de Piero, the Labour shadow minister for women and equalities. Cameron had better choose wisely to gain the confidence of women that government has our best interests at heart. A number of strong female candidates sprung to mind, notably those who champion women’s real issues.

Female Breadwinners also liked as potential candidates the independent-minded Priti Patel and Andrea Leadsom. Equally Anna Soubry, who has the reputation of ‘speaking her mind’ when she jokingly accused Cameron of giving her a role historically given to women. ’Boss, you do know what you’ve just done? You’ve given public health to the girl again’.

So who was it to be?….drum roll….Instead of those great candidates, we were introduced to Nicky Morgan. “She’s the classic blue-stocking, solid Tory, deeply deeply reliable and efficient. And she’ll be a very good minister” said a conservative insider. We are less convinced as Morgan’s voted against legalising gay marriage, so Cameron split the women’s and equalities ministerial posts, the latter passed to Sajid Javid. As a result of the mini-shuffle of the cabinet Andrea Leadsom was appointed as Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

Is the only way women succeed in parliament when they maintain an air of caution and don’t have any radical opinions? ‘As whip, Morgan was forced to keep her head down – it’s in the nature of the job. As Economic Secretary, she’s been adept at toeing the Government line’ wrote The Guardian.

Will Morgan get the time to address women’s rights when the position is sidelined yet again with her other demanding role as Financial Secretary to the Treasury? Let’s hope she can juggle because we are counting on her.

Snickers Advert: Is keeping men hungry the answer to gender equality?

Australian Snickers Ad“Do you wanna hear a filthy word?…..” shouts the construction worker from the scaffolding to a passing woman. We at Female Breadwinners cringed before hearing the catcall, “…..Gender bias!”. We were not expecting that! The latest Australian advert for Snickers involves actors shouting non-sexist hoots, such as the one above, to passing women. The messages expressed are respectful, gender neutral and indeed empowering. One builder catcalls: “You know what I’d like to see? A society in which the objectification of women makes way for gender neutral introductions, free from assumptions and expectations. You go girl!”.

On the surface the ad appears to have an anti-misogyny theme. Sadly not all is as it seems and the slogan, “You’re not you when you’re hungry” hits your screen leaving you feel cheated and somewhat deflated after a refreshing moment is compared to that of a hunger driven madness. You are left questioning whether it is sexist or entertaining, and it has evoked this mixed reaction globally. There has been an massive response on Twitter with tweets such as;

“Why do these men have to be starving in order to believe #women deserve respect?”

Another one asks:

“Tagline at the end of the #snickersaustralia advert is confusing. So, when men are full they go back to being sexist?”

The advert appears to be sexist to men and women both alike. By suggesting that the men ‘aren’t themselves’ implies they’re otherwise a group of misogynists. Additionally, no person should be subjected to any street harassment scenario. A Mars spokeswoman stated in a Australian newspaper, “We do not endorse any behaviour that offends women or accept derogatory comments towards anyone”.

This video got our attention here at Female Breadwinners. So the question we are left with is: If the way to a man’s heart in through his stomach, are hungry men the only ones that believe in equality?

Check out the video and let us know what you think?


Publisher Calls Biology Blogger an ‘Urban Whore’ for Asking for Payment


danielle-lee2No matter how frequently we report on sexism in the workplace, we are still often surprised by the audacity of those who discriminate even in the most mundane situations. In one such shocking incident, biologist and science blogger Dr. Danielle N. Lee was called ‘an urban whore’ when she inquired about compensation from the journal Biology Online. What BO didn’t count on was the social media arsenal someone like Dr. Lee has at her disposal.

Dr. Lee wrote for the Scientific American blog network for over two years under the name DNLee, focusing on “urban ecology, evolutionary biology & diversity in the sciences.” She was approached by Biology Online to write a series of monthly articles under her blog name – the Urban Scientist. When she inquired about compensation, Biology Online, explained that their guest bloggers were expected to write “for exposure”. When Dr. Lee politely declined this request, Biology Online insulted her by replying, “Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?”

Dr. Lee posted screencaps of the exchange to her blog on the Scientific American site along with a video aimed at Biology Online on Youtube. What is even more surprising is that Scientific American removed her blog post about the incident claiming it was too personal and nothing to do with science. Since Scientific American allows numerous other authors to post personal stories on their website, their silencing of a African American woman seems to reflect a troubling contradiction towards diversity in the sciences.

The Daily Dot re-reported Dr Lee’s original post-, after it had been removed. They quoted her as saying, “It wasn’t just that he called me a whore – he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand. What? Now, I’m so immoral and wrong to inquire about compensation?”

At Female Breadwinners, we wholeheartedly support Dr. Lee’s stance. We can’t help but suspect that would not have been the responses from Biology Online or Scientific American had the blogger been someone from a ‘more traditional background’.

Why Warren Buffett Invests like a Woman

women in financeAt Female Breadwinners, we encourage women to take more control over their family’s finances – especially in investments and savings. In dealing with thousands of male and female clients, we have found that women are more prudent and cautious in their investment strategies. They hold onto stocks for longer, perhaps cynically because they often have less time to ‘watch the market’.

Certainly my own experience mirrors this. My husband loves to watch his stock portfolio move and will fill me in on the lurid details, while I just keep sending in my monthly cheques to my pension plan, salting it away like my mother taught me.

The long-term benefits of “investing like a girl” are now being backed up by research. A seven-year study by the University of California found single female investors outperformed single men by 2% percent and female investment groups outperformed male counterparts by 5%.  Male investors were found to be trading 45% more than women, leading to more bad decisions and lower performance.

Men are often overconfident investors looking for one-upmanship in their stock picking. As LouAnn Lofton, author of  “Warren Buffet Invests Like a Girl: And Why You Should Too: “With men, too often investing is all about keeping score. It’s a macho thing. They’re looking for hot stock tips to get the quick win and then talk about it.”

This overconfidence has dire repercussions. A Washington Post article on Behavioural Economics mentions: “Women are more loss averse than men, more emotionally unattached and are far quicker to unload losers [losing stock]. Whereas men with their bravado, they don’t want to admit they’re wrong.”

Financial organisations would do well to have a few more cautious traders on their floors. Hiring more women would mean less overtrading of accounts, more long-term planning and less volatility. For example, Britain’s Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (which studied the 2008 crash) recommended this strategy, including gender diversity in banking and stringing out bonuses over longer periods of time. Seems like the smart money is in investing like a woman, just like Warren Buffet.

Does your approach to investing differ from the men in your life?

Try Not Having Kids!

not having kids, female breadwinnersA similarly child-free friend of mine sent me this witty video  - Try Not Having Kids!

As a 38 year old woman who only recently has started feeling confident enough to tell people I won’t have children, it resonated. It’s a light-hearted look at the ‘side effects’ of not having kids created as a parody of prescription drug commercials. What we love at Female Breadwinners is not that the video pokes fun at parents, but that it shows the highs ‘alleviate daily stress and gain personal fulfillment!’ and the lows ‘mid-life regret and eerily quiet apartment’ of not procreating. We love the ‘safety warning’ of ‘Please tell your doctor if you already have kids before you ‘try not having kids’ as this may result in you being a selfish a***&^*&*”

Statistically, the better educated a woman is, the less likely she is to have children. This makes us wonder how far off the mark BBC presenter and Historian Lucy Worsley was when she controversially claimed: ‘I’ve been educated past my reproductive function.’ Clearly, it’s not an easy choice for anyone debating to become a parent, but we love how the video cleverly uses humour to show there is no right answer – just very different lives.


Pantene video shows gendered double standards are global challenge

gendered double standardsThe recent Pantene Philippines ad that went viral globally exposed the double standard women face in the workplace. It hit the nail on the head in less than 60 seconds. As a woman who has had her fair share of the ‘bossy’ label aimed at her, whilst men around me organised similar events only to be credited with great ‘leadership’ skills, this advert hit a nerve. The ad, viewed by over 3 million people, asks us to judge women more favourably – particularly when they share the same traits as men.

Labels against women by Pantene has men and women performing the same tasks – giving a speech,  working at the office – but where the man is labeled the “boss” the woman is “bossy.” He is “persuasive,” while she is “pushy”. He is “smooth” while she is a “show-off.” Part of a larger campaign between Pantene Philippines and online news site Rappler, the ad is what BBDO Guerrero (the campaign developer) has dubbed “a simple call to action” that urges women “to cast aside these labels.”

As explained by the Wall Street Journal Pantene Philippines and Rappler conducted research which showed that while men and women are increasingly viewed more equally in the Philippines, double standards still dominated attitudes toward women. Clearly bias, even unconscious, is a big barrier against advancing women in the workplace. It’s worth noting that gender bias is not a white male phenomenon either. Women can be the harshest critics of each other – and as this video illustrates, bias is a problem that extends far beyond ‘Western’ countries.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, called the campaign her ‘Lean In Prize of the Day’, tweeting: “This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways. Really worth watching.” We couldn’t agree more.

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