It’s pretty sad that at a time of national crisis, Parliament spent substantial time discussing whether Jeremy Corbyn did indeed use the words “Stupid Woman” in reference to Theresa May, or whether he said “Stupid People”. In either case Parliament does not come out of this well – not just for this one incident but for its wider level of respect in debate generally.
There have already been thousands of words of debate in the Press and other media about whether, if he had used those words, it would be wrong.
At times like this, you have to step back and ask what the wider effect is.
Sexist Gender Stereotype
Out of curiosity I Googled the term “Stupid Man” (about 354,000,000 results) and “Stupid Woman” (about 517,000,000 results).
Given the proportion of men to women is roughly 49:51 (at least we avoided 48:52) the difference cannot be explained by differences in population levels.
Now there is absolutely no case on earth to suggest that women have a greater propensity to stupidity than men and therefore deserve the term more often. Yet it appears that the use of the term “Stupid Woman” is substantially more prevalent than “Stupid Man” if the Google test is anything to go by. Google is a quick and easy way of getting a rough handle on massive amounts of public data.
If that is the case, then “Stupid woman” is arguably used to reinforce an utterly wrong and sexist gender stereotype.
Where Does Your Organisation Stand?
That leads me to one question. What practices do you or your organisation indulge in where you have accidentally drifted into persisting with unfair stereotypes around gender, ethnicity or disability?
You may not always mean them, but they can be hurtful and contribute to continuing views and practices which belong in the dark ages.
You have 11 days before the New Year to decide what you are going to resolve to change for the better in 2019.
Speaking Up Process
You can’t tackle gender inequality, workplace bullying or any other issues affecting employees if you don’t know it’s happening. Make sure that you have a good speaking up process in place. Download our free e-book, Building a Successful Speaking Up Process in your Organisation, to learn how you can achieve this and start 2019 as you mean to go on!
Finally, WorkInConfidence provides the industry leading anonymous dialogue system, SpeakInConfidence, where staff can raise ideas or concerns and give candid feedback to management confidentially. With this in place you’ll be able to tackle any issues that come to light and keep valuable employees in the organisation.