Laugh Then Cry At The Ridiculous Reasons Women Aren't Represented In The Board Room

by Aoife Hanna
Per Swantesson/Stocksy

We are all born equal. OK, just kidding! Liberal myth joke out of the way, gender equality in the work place remains strongly in one direction and I'll give you two guesses which way that is. Yes, you nailed it in one: men remain at the top of pecking order in corporate environments among a great many other working environments. Do not even get me started on to the gender pay gap or we will be here all week. Female board members remain few and far between, and when business leaders were interrogated about this fact, the results were... interesting.

The government recently backed an independent review on the topic by Sir Philip Hampton and the late Dame Helen Alexander. The purpose of the review was to look at how women at the higher end of business are treated, promoted, and rewarded. Investigators spoke to a load of executives from FTSE 350 companies to produce their findings, and from this review, the BBC put together the top most cited reasons for women not being on the boards of these companies.

No, this is not Mad Men. No, these are not the punchlines of jokes you never even found funny in the first place but felt like you had to laugh at what given male fragility et al. This is the corporate environment in the UK in 2018. So, find your nearest stress ball and make sure what ever you are drinking won't stain when you spit it out laughing. Here's the top ten most ridiculous reasons for not appointing female executives.


"I don't think women fit comfortably into the board environment."

You know when someone is being awful and then they turn it around and make it seem like they are doing you a favour? This argument postulates that women just don't like scary business decisions and that. Too delicate, poor blossoms. Condescending much? This is the general theme of this list but I think it really sets the tone. If you don't laugh you will cry right? As the Guardian reported, many women seeking promotion in the corporate environment are described as abrasive and held back because of their personality. Seriously. Behave as you should and you might, maybe, by some chance, succeed. Ok, put the box of wine down it's not time yet.


"There aren't that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board — the issues covered are extremely complex."

This don't worry your pretty little head style of dealing with the gender gap is so bad that it's good. When I read this, I laughed so hard that my coffee came right out of my nose. I'm not sure how that would go down in the corporate environment. Ugh, silly woman!

I wonder why so many talented, capable, and able women don't have the "depth of experience"? Is it because they're being overlooked? Just putting it out there. Women are more than capable of covering any "complex issues" but are overlooked for things that have nothing to do with their competency.


"Most women don't want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board."

I. Cannot. Deal. It really would be far too much to cope with. All that hassle and pressure of being recognised for all of your credentials, experience, and hard work. Such a palaver really. That would be super sucky and thank you for taking this awful burden from me. I can't believe it took me so long to say this but mansplaining, mansplaining, mansplaining. Oof that was a relief.


"Shareholders just aren't interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?"

People who invest in shares just care about that money and want it to keep rolling on in. Or so I assume. The nearest thing I have to shares is the bottle of oat milk I have co-invested in with my flatmate. Anyway, jokes aside, this argument is legitimately being used to halt the advancement of women in business. Again, nothing to do with merit. It's more important to keep the status quo than to offer a more diverse and balanced board. Ok, bored.


"All the 'good' women have already been snapped up."

Yeah either that, or they are tired of this kind of behaviour.

Veiled compliments are one way of dealing with enormous gender equalities, as is placing the blame on women themselves. This is one of those soft let downs where you say that you tried looking but didn't actually look very hard.

Remember that moment in Death Becomes Her when Goldie Hawn's character wrings a hanky so hard that her hands bleed? Yeah, that.


"My other board colleagues wouldn't want to appoint a woman on our board."

It's not me honest, it's the other guys!

Another fantastic responsibility-switching argument. Don't blame me, it's the other guys, I'm a nice guy.

Insert fog horn noise here and/or scream into nearest pillow.


"We have one woman already on the board, so we are done — it is someone else's turn."

Having a token female present on a board does not really stand for gender equality across the board does it? Nor does it stand for hiring people for fair reasons.

Ugh, how bout put a fork in me, I'm done.


"There aren't any vacancies at the moment — if there were I would think about appointing a woman."

Gosh nobody wants to take responsibility at all do they. It's not me, it's my mates who are against this. The reason women aren't being hired is there are no opportunities. Honestly, the dog ate my homework.

Juvenile at best, repressive and controlling at worst. Above all, laughable.


"We need to build the pipeline from the bottom — there just aren't enough senior women in this sector."

Look, at least this one is flagging that the issue is institutional and from the very core foundations of the business.

But hang on, one second ago didn't they just make it seem that it's women's fault that they are not qualified? Hmm, something doesn't add up.


"I can't just appoint a woman because I want to."

I'm not sure that's how it works though. No, you can't hire women just because you wan't to, but you can give equal opportunity and actively state that you want to have a more balanced board to begin with.

According to recent government data reported by the BBC, in the UK the average gender pay gap across all medium and large-sized firms is 8.2 percent. In layman's terms this means that there is around 8 percent difference between what men and women get paid per hour. Five years ago, back in my short-lived TV career, I helped make a BBC3 comedy short which dealt with a lot of these issues.

Cut to 1:48 to see my stellar extra work, it's quite something. Also, cut to five years on from this, this joke is still funny because it's still true. It's easy to poke fun and make a joke about something that is so openly and transparently ridiculous. You know it's bad if even the government are admitting it's not ideal.