A fresh look at Women in Leadership
Flicking through my free copy of Time Out London on the tube the other day, a quote on the contents page jumped out at me. It was the actor Gemma Arterton: “You can be fun and gross, have an intelligent voice and be working-class”. The explainer beneath it ran: “Gemma Arterton on no longer having to be ‘prissy’ about feminism.” In other words, here was an actor ‘representing’ women as a whole in her interview. I don’t know whether Arterton saw her words that way – but even if she didn’t, the journalist did. Or the editor did. Or the editor knew that the public might.
That same morning, I also saw in my newsfeed that the TV series Girls is ending. Much of the coverage of this story focused on Lena Dunham, the show’s creator, and on what she and the show had meant, what cultural significance it had had. Dunham’s handwritten farewell note (she posted a photo of it on Instagram) included the lines: “Give any woman six years to create and she will SOAR. Women’s stories deserve to be told. We demand opportunity.”
The question of women in leadership is, it seems to me, becoming entwined more richly into our pop-cultural discourse than ever before – the urgent opportunity of the question, the energy of it, the thrill, complexity and challenge of it.
Of course, one of the reasons that the subject is gaining ever more traction is precisely because there is such challenge around it too. The show’s creators have suggested that Girls is finishing because the characters aren’t girls anymore – they’re women.
And of course that transition brings a whole new set of obstacles…