April 16, 2014 11.40 am This story is over 90 months old

Behind every great man…

Equality for women: Kate Taylor studies recent events and wonders if women are still struggling with equality issues in our culture.

…Is a woman rolling her eyes. Or there was, until they got started on pushing the glass ceiling that seemed to be going nowhere. The question is how far have we come, does the space from the floor leave room for maneuver?

During the recent Indian elections, some interesting statistics have arisen. Of those standing, 10% of women win, whereas their male counterparts can only boast a 6% victory in comparison. Along with this, the Poverty Action Lab have collated a colossal amount of data on the topic, discovering that men and women have different interests when it comes to how government budgets should be spent. Women appear to be looking towards improving electricity supplies and water sources, whereas men want to see greater educational facilities and better irrigation and ponds.

It would seem that women are more ‘family oriented’ and look to what will help at home. I’m not sure this is an entirely fair view, the phrase ‘women help women’ seems to be forced into our psyche and this seems to largely hypothesised, at least in this case.

Back here the column inches over Maria Miller, former Culture Secretary, are rising. Regardless of your personal viewpoint for Miller’s behaviour, it’s difficult to ignore the lynchmob.

Channel 4 news presenter Cathy Newman wrote in the Telegraph: “But when the obituaries come to be written about Maria Miller, the most depressing truth for the Culture Secretary will be how the debacle over her expenses has subsumed everything else; I suspect that’s because there is very little else.”

I am in awe. Like thousands of politicians before her, recently and not, she made a cock up and resigned. Is that any reason to talk about what will be said after she departs the mortal coil?

Of course the side effect of this is that central government is now whittled down to three women out of twenty two posts. Cameron has reshuffled, and his shuffling skills would get him kicked out of a casino. The PM also promised us that a third of the cabinet would be female by the end of this parliament – another shining example of pre-election patter.

The new Minister for Women, Nicky Morgan, voted against equal marriage rights. The post for Equalities Minister has gone to Sajid Javid, with Nicky drafted in so he wouldn’t be left holding the women’s issues. I’m waiting to see how long it is until number ten tries to arrange a live web chat with Mumsnet and the Women’s Institute (or indeed, the highly acclaimed Gransnet).

Women’s Hour have announced their top ten powerful women for the year, from Julie Bentley (chief exec of GirlGuiding) to Julie Bailey (founder of Cure the NHS).

Clearly there has been a shift within perspectives in the representation of power. Far from the usual selection of boardroom woman and stereotypical power dressers, there are those with causes and ideas for change.

In at number ten was Caitlin Moran, the journalist-come-Tweeter-come-author and common sense feminist. This is one of the few times I wil dare to use that word: feminism. Which is ridiculous, as all feminism is and ever has been about is equality. Just as we have fought homophobia and racism, sexism is very real, and equally unbelievable but somehow more palatable.

Why is this? In the 21st century; with women proving themselves physically, mentally, spiritually and scientifically in every which way, why are the “fairer” sex still not treated fairly? Joss Whedon (writer, producer and director) once spoke at an Equality Now function, speaking of the usual rhetoric he recieves in interviews, he decided to impersonate a journalist to give his conclusive reply:

“- So why do you write these strong female characters?”
“- Because you’re still asking me that question.”

Democracy is based upon equality; it is the foundation of rationality. When we look at our government, is it any wonder we are in dire straights?

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Kate Taylor is a sociologist, mother and tea and cake lover. When not working in sociological and marketing research with her company, Galilee Research, Kate can be found talking about political philosophy on the school run.