The Blog

Boobs and Husbands: Our Careers Are in Their Hands Girls

From the moment we pop out of the womb the pressure of success is upon us. And when you do succeed it is swarmed with criticism and flaws that you are barely allowed five minutes to congratulate yourself.

From the moment we pop out of the womb the pressure of success is upon us. And when you do succeed it is swarmed with criticism and flaws that you are barely allowed five minutes to congratulate yourself.

Women are the hottest targets and barely a week goes by where we cannot do something better as a breed to ensure we are the best we can be. The past two weeks have been no exception.

Last week, chief executive of the Girls' Day School Trust, Helen Fraser suggested that us girls make it a career choice to find a husband. Not just any husband, no no. That would be too 1950s of us, darling. But a husband that can catapult us far into the galaxy so that we can achieve our wildest dreams. Because we can't do it on our own.

Let's just take a look at the facts: on average, women earn around 15% less than men. For every £100 men take home, women typically earn around £85. It does differ across regions and sectors - in London the pay gap stands at 23%. The pay gap is one of the starkest indicators of how far we have to go before we achieve equality between women and men. Best start getting a ring on my finger then.

Mothers that hit Ms Fraser's 'nappy wall' still tend to do the bulk of the work and tend to find it hard to balance paid work with family responsibilities. As such, we mere female mortals are penalised: we are less likely to be hired at child bearing age for fear we might fall preggers.

Getting your husband to get you a top job is hardly going to close this gap, nor will it make any difference to people's attitudes to child bearing women. Forget that ring. It would be much nicer if men could step aside and let some intelligent, funny and innovative women take the forefront. I certainly know a few that could do top jobs better than the men in them.

Next up was Dr Helen Wright, head of an independent boarding school and a life-long advocate of campaigning to scrap anything remotely sexy. She's complained that reality TV star Kim Kardashian's front cover of Zoo "sums up everything that is wrong with Western society". For those that have not had the pleasure, Kim is posing as though trying to hold in a poo (known as sexy in the business) in nothing but some ever-so-tasteful red and black lacy underwear. She's Zoo's 'Hot 101 Winner.' Lucky her.

There is nothing wrong with tottering around in heels and a pencil skirt - I've been doing it in my staunch feminist stilettos for 25 years. Dr Wright's point is that girls are pressurised into becoming the 'hottest women in the world' and that this is now more of a priority than academic success. This time I am inclined to agree. It is especially worrying as on the same day, papers reported a young teenager hung herself because she was teased about her weight in the playground, yet she had a serious eating disorder.

Most adverts and magazine features invite you in for a strip tease. Most of these are promoting products for women yet these adverts seem aimed at men. Or at least imply that they need to look like that to get the man of their dreams who can then make their career choices come true. That is why sexualised pictures of women are bad, not just because there are so many sexy pictures about.

What both Helens fail to miss and in turn help to entrench, is that this is a class issue. Lower class women are less likely to hunt out a husband to get them a top job as a banking executive. They are more likely to work in Tescos, in the belief that is all they can achieve because society tells them so. This is probably why we have so many working glass girls taking up jobs glamour models. They believe that they are doing it for themselves - look at Jodie Marsh and Katie Price. Yet they are just trying to fulfil a man's fantasy. Or basically unload himself.

The glass ceiling that so many women still hit and bound right off, plus the over sexualisation of women does need to be tackled. And both go hand in hand. Rather than bashing each other down though, why don't we celebrate one another , and congratulate our successes for once. Who knows, maybe if those men people see us doing it, they might join in. Or maybe I'm just naive.