The Great Debate UK

Pop culture and media messages keep women down


mavin- Professor Sharon Mavin is Associate Dean (Research) at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.--

International Women’s Day remains an important reminder of disadvantaged women globally, as well as a marker of women’s progress in society. IWD is an opportunity to reflect on changes still to come and the need for continued activism in representing the interests of women around the world.

Further developments in relation to gender based inequalities and positive change to women’s status will come, in part, by acceptance of women as leaders – women leaders with the power to effect change in all societies. However, as long as the universal under-representation of women in government, business and policy making bodies remains, those developments will be hampered.

Yes, there are small, yet growing women in the parliaments of Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon; Muslim women are achieving positions of heads of state in Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh; in South Africa women are increasing their share of votes. Yet in America, where women make up more than half the population, they hold only 17 percent of congressional seats, seven of the 50 governorships and have yet to achieve the key leadership position of president.  As the British Member of Parliament Angela Eagle has noted, the higher up the ladder in business and politics, the fewer women there are.