The silly season for sexism
Is this a season for sexism or a regression?
Maybe it's hormonal. Maybe it's S.A.D. (Seasonal Aberration Disorder.) Maybe there is something in the air around the spring equinox. It's the season for sexism. But we seem to be inundated with multiple sexist faux pas. This is even going beyond Donald Trump who causes offence by simple being on our radar.
Just when we thought we only had to deal with unconscious bias and second generation discrimination, we have seen a regression into outright sexism.
We seem to be dialling back in time.
Microsoft put its corporate foot into its mouth with such force, it seems to have dislodged some of its collective brain. Someone, it would seem, had the brilliant idea of inviting go-go dancers in scanty school uniforms to provide entertainment at their official after party in San Francisco during the Game Developer Conference. Microsoft the owner of Xbox are openly committed to increased involvement of women in the games industry, came away with egg on their male faces, as participants took to social media to complain.
— Xeni (@xeni) March 18, 2016
I have to tell you that my school uniform never looked like that. The nuns would have had a heart attack.
Pew research shows that 42% of gamers are women, and women over the age of 18 are one of the industry's fastest growing demographics. More women own games consoles than men. To meet this shifting market a strategic change in gender balance policies is required. Yet Microsoft did not meet its diversity targets set last year. The proportion of women in tech at Microsoft has actually declined from 17.1% in 2014 to 16.9% in 2015. Leadership representation for women is consistent at 17.3%.
Despite the automated apologies, other indications on Twitter suggests that the hiring of go-go dancers is not a one off and they have featured before in their parties.
Dancers in school uniforms is a cool recruitment strategy to attract women to a company, right? "A" for employer branding, guys
If you thought it couldn't get worse it actually does. The season for sexism carries on!
Raymond Moore Chief executive of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California and director of its tournament, resigned after making comments about female tennis players that caused a strong backlash from the top women players. Moore caused a stir when he made the following comment:
“In my next life, when I come back, I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on the coattails of the men,” Moore said. “They don’t make any decisions, and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky. If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.”
He then goes on to discuss their physical attractiveness. Serena William's response showed amazing restraint:
"Those remarks are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate."
There are multiple conversations on LinkedIn about the general decline in the quality of the content. Mark Babbitt asks whether we are "social selling or spamming" and Jan Allen mourns the death of LinkedIn.
Dorothy Dalton noted in addition to this the number of soft porn images in our streams and the use of what is supposed to be a professional networking site, for dating and what looks at times more like soliciting. LinkedIn needs to deal with images such as this at source and people need to stop sharing them.
Women traditionally play nice. We suck it up and try to reason. Or we just quit. But isn't it about time we just said - enough already? Women impact 80% of consumer decisions. We pay a pink tax on products and services. We earn 20% less. What is wrong with us that we let this happen?
Or as Lynne Everatt said in her very compelling LinkedIn Pulse post
It's time for a different approach driven by playfulness, irreverence and an acknowledgment that we are playing a game in which we have the super power to make up new rules as we go along.
If we don't do something soon, the silly season for sexism will go on unabated!
Find out how to attract, retain and groom women to strengthen your talent pipeline. Contact 3Plus
Senora is a serial social commentator and geek based in California
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Dates for the Diary
23rd January 2020 - How to build an employer brand that attracts and retains women.
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