The Inspirational Woman Story Which Backfired

27/09/2016 11:53

I caused an uproar on LinkedIn last week.

It began in all innocence with the creation of an "inspiration board" on the back of the airing cupboard door which I have now claimed, revamped and renamed "the office cupboard". Opening that door every morning, bleary eyed and struggling to remember my own name, the inspiration board is meant to instantly transform me into a fusion of Miranda Priestley and Deborah Meaden which quite often, it does.

Being the selfless person that I am, I also like to share the inspirational piece of news which has captured my attention that morning. On this particular day, it was an article about Emma Walmsley, who has just been made CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, currently the UK's third largest company.

I'll be the first to admit, I merely glanced at the newspaper headline, drunk as I was on Emma's fabulous achievement. When I read that she had four children to boot, it simply gave me hope that some day, I too might be able to put in a full day's work and feed my one child something other than vague foodstuffs left at the bottom of the fridge because I haven't had the time to a. shop and b. cook.

Yes, in my head, suffragettes were cheering and I was eager to spread the word, so shared the article on social media. Within an hour, it had created quite a discussion on LinkedIn (or Linky Dinky as my mother insists on calling it). The reason? It was the Daily Mail's fault. Reading the headline properly, I realised with mounting horror and not a little irritation, that it had in fact diluted Emma's fantastic achievement by stressing that she had a VERY understanding husband (yes, very was given full capitals). In other words, Ms Walmsley was jolly lucky that her husband approved of her career shenanigans, otherwise she'd have been back baking flapjacks in the kitchen, faster than you can say "Germaine Greer".

You can imagine the reaction.

Lovely professional people whom I'd never even heard of, kindly took the time to like and comment on the post. A director of an educational establishment questioned why Emma's story was considered more newsworthy in light of her being a mother, commenting quite reasonably that "...male CEOs aren't asked whether they're fathers".

Well quite.

An information management specialist was puzzled over what constituted someone being VERY understanding; the precise degree evidently being very important to the story.

The angle took on what was essentially a great story and turned it into a contradictory piece, showcasing Emma as a fabulous role model, whilst patting her husband on the back.

So now, my office cupboard door is seeking a news item which turns the tables and congratulates a woman for her husband's success.

Don't hold your breath.


Uk Women