glenda_stone- Glenda Stone is an Australian businesswomen in the UK, CEO of Aurora and a commentator on economic gender issues. 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.–.-

In Australia there is a common expression of social phenomenon called the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. It is a pejorative term that describes human behaviour of attacking, despising or attempting to cut down or criticise people of genuine merit because their achievements or talent distinguish them above their peers. Targets are often accomplished people with a public profile: business leaders, politicians, academics - and at times even celebrities and sporting personalities.

The media can be especially vicious in strategising, fuelling and orchestrating smear campaigns with the sole intention of defaming and questioning the character and ability of high-profile leaders.

So three questions arise: Do different countries differ in their appetite and media tolerance for Tall Poppy Syndrome? Has inaccurate, sensationalist, instant reporting in the media become a globally accepted normative standard? And are women even greater targets for negative media attention because of unfair, deeply ingrained societal gender bias?

The UK is one of the most competitive and intensive media consuming countries in the world. In fact, any country where the Murdoch empire towers, a full and crowded range of media exists ranging from the most unintelligent sensationalist reporting through to attempts of more fact based and balanced coverage.