In tonight’s WDD, Germaine Greer makes more controversial comments on the #MeToo movement. Plus, children are drawing more female scientists than ever – and a parliamentary committee is calling on the government to improve paternity leave as a way of tackling the gender pay gap.
Germaine Greer: women who speak out about sexual assault could become “career rapees”
Germaine Greer became a radical feminist icon in 1970 with the publication of her book The Female Eunuch – but in the last few decades she has become an increasingly divisive figure, not least for her inflammatory views on transgender women. Earlier this year, Greer sparked outrage when she criticised #MeToo campaigners as “whingeing” actresses who had “spread [their] legs” for movie roles.
Now, the 79-year-old writer and academic has weighed in on #MeToo once more. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday morning, Greer expressed sympathy for women like Harvey Weinstein’s former assistant, Zelda Perkins, who had to do battle with hugely powerful “legal muscle” as they tried to get justice.
However, Greer suggested that she was worried that allegations of sexual assault or harassment could ruin people’s lives and careers.
“I’m concerned for damage limitation, rather than maximisation,” she said. “Rather than wrecking people’s lives so they become career rapees, as it were.”
She added: “None of the things we’re doing actually work to protect women from abuse.”
Greer also said that if she had been assaulted by Weinstein, she “wouldn’t have been sitting around being quiet and keeping [it] a secret”, and argued that women who signed non-disclosure agreements after settling with Weinstein out of court hadn’t behaved honourably.
“[Settlement payments are] a dishonourable thing to accept and it’s not something you should boast about,” she said.
Listen to the interview with Greer here.
Children are drawing more women scientists than ever (but it’s not all good news)
For the last 42 years, researchers have been asking schoolchildren in the US to ‘draw a scientist’. When this experiment was first performed in 1966, less than 1% of the 5,000 youthful participants (just 28 of them) produced a picture of a woman.
The results of that study were published in 1983, and since then the ‘Draw-A-Scientist’ experiment has been carried out almost 80 times. Now, a new meta-analysis of the research has been published in the journal Child Development – and it shows that children’s perceptions of gender and career roles have changed significantly since the Sixties.
According to the analysis, roughly one in three children in the US will now sketch a woman when asked to draw a scientist. While this represents a huge step forward in terms of perceptions of science as a masculine profession, it suggest that the majority of children still expect scientists to be male.
“Children draw what they see,” said Toni Schmader, a psychological scientist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She said that the findings suggest children need to learn more about women’s roles in science.
“If we can change these representations, young girls might more easily be able to envision a future for themselves in science.”
Nature has more on this story here.
MPs call on men to be given more paternity leave to reduce the gender pay gap
The women and equalities select committee has called on the government to tackle paternity leave in the UK as a way of addressing the gender pay gap.
In a report published on Tuesday, the committee said that fathers should get the option of 12 weeks’ paid paternity leave. This would have the double benefit of allowing men to be more involved in their children’s lives while giving women the chance to get back into work, it said.
“Parental leave and the gender pay gap are closely linked,” said committee chair Maria Miller. “Until we get it right for dads we can’t get it right for mums.”
Currently, men in the UK are only eligible for one or two weeks’ paid statutory paternity leave, or can take up the shared parental leave scheme.
“What all parents want is more flexible working,” Miller said. “Business listens to the law. We are still in a situation where dads overwhelmingly feel they will be badly thought of for taking shared parental leave – it is seen as a lack of commitment to the job.”
Read more on this story at The Guardian.
Throughout 2018, Stylist is raising the profiles of brilliant women past and present – and empowering future generations to follow their lead – with our Visible Women campaign. See more from Visible Women here.
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