Wednesday, March 3, 2010

TED meet The F Word: How we learned to swear by feminism

The F Word: How we learned to swear by feminism

When it comes to the work/life balance, modern women continually find themselves in a no-win situation where they are criticised regardless of the path they choose. The F Word: How we learned to swear by feminism argues that the pervasive idea that women will never be able to effectively combine work or interests outside the home with marriage, a social life and parenting is a furphy. In their lively and topical new book, Caro and Fox combine both personal experience and the stories of a range of women with the big picture, and provide practical suggestions for forgiving ourselves, having fun and not giving up while holding it all together.

Jane Caro is an award-winning advertising writer with 25 years experience. She also writes on educational and other issues for a range of publications, and is a regular commentator on radio.

Catherine Fox is deputy editor of AFR Boss magazine and writes a weekly column, `Corporate Woman', for the Australian Financial Review. She joined the AFR in 1989 and has held a variety of positions, including marketing and Smart Money editor, and court reporter.

Table of Contents via

TED I'm disappointed to say the least. My husband and partner's application to TED Global (which I wrote) has been accepted but I haven't had a reply yet. My husband queried as he's now a VIP and ... well, I'm not being looked at yet.

Not only does that suck for us personally because I'm the TED zealot who's been running TED salons and passionately promoting the talks everywhere I go, right up to writing both of our applications to TED conferences! But travelling the whole family to England just for TED and a quick holiday takes a bit of planning and the possibility of us actually going is quickly receding!

TED you are lacking in feminist principles. Perhaps if you knew I was now teaching at University on top of everything else I do that is kind of p/t, community, child and volunteer based then I'd look more impressive. Everyone who knows both of us knows that I am equally valuable, intelligent and into changing the world as my husband. If anything I am a far greater passionate communicator across far more areas.

It would be cynical to believe that Michael's position within a large global company is what got him a place. It would devalue his contribution as a great strategist and futurist. But he and I work as a team on brainstorming and writing futurist scenarios and I am being seriously devalued here.

It is far more likely to be the feminist blind spot. What I do is not seen or valued. Why do I take this share of the partnership? My students today said "But hasn't it been proven that women don't want big jobs and responsibilities?" And I am battling to get the explanation into a short accessible sound bite.

My individual choice is somewhat constrained by the society and culture that I am in. The majority of women are making life choices that afford them less pay and prestige than men. Let's ask why that is? Perhaps we are being constrained. And perhaps we also see that these are very important things to be doing. Things that are obviously not being valued highly enough. Perhaps that is the real problem. Whichever way you slice it women are still coming out worse off than men in almost every instance in every single society.

The second wave of feminism only went so far and has ebbed. Jane Caro and Catherine Fox describe the position that women (and men) are somewhat surprised to find themselves in right now and explode all of those elephants in the room.

I love this book and I want everyone (TED) I know to read it. I only wish that the authors had gone further right at the end and talked more about how feminism is a social issue. MEN need feminism. (2 income families especially... don't you realise that if ALL the work you were both doing was more highly valued that you wouldn't be so poor and tired?) Ironically, if I am more valued for teaching at University right now, it is at the expense of my football club volunteering. I'm trading influence with 750 families and 250 adult players/coaches for influence with 75 students.

Finally, I wish the authors had been invited to speak at TED.

Posted via web from andragy's posterous

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