Power play

Share this article
Have your say

Fiona McCade’s (Perspective, 6 December) deconstruction of the claims by Marissa Mayer, the new chief executive of Yahoo, that having a baby while being one of “the world’s most powerful women” is “easy” is a great piece of journalism, and one Fiona’s key phrases is the most salient: “[Mayer] has chosen to act like a man.”

And not just any man, but as the chief executive of a multinational successful megabusiness she will probably act like a certain type of hard-driven macho man, albeit in a “fun place to work”. There are some women who seem to manage top level roles and retain a recognisably female approach: Angela Merkel, for example, who is profiled on the same page.

However, research by academics in several countries points to the fact that groups which are dominant tend to “clone” themselves and appoint to join them the individuals who share their characteristics.

Thus there is a tendency for powerful males, if they appoint females at all, to relate to those who reflect back to them those characteristics they attribute to themselves.

Consequently, the statistics on women in senior roles may tell an even worse story, as the women who hold these positions, like Ms Mayer, will tend to speak and act like self-professed “macho” men.

Whether or not they actually think like such men is a controversial point; some possibly do, but I suspect many are going along with the dominant culture because it pays them to.

There are other ways of running the world than through a “survival of the fittest” market-driven capitalist business model, and your letters (6 December)on the price we pay for rewarding greed seem to suggest that many more of us are now questioning the unethical practices of certain companies.

If in Scotland we are to encourage a more wholesome approach to running commercial businesses than the undiluted capitalist model, we will need a healthy balance of men and women decision makers who are motivated by other priorities than the “bottom line”.

(Dr) Mary Brown

Dalvenie Road