WiPL Blog

This Women in Public Life blog is a space to kick start discussion and commentary to share women's experiences of public life and discuss issues that affect women in Wales today.

So, what is a blog? It's short for web log; effectively an online diary commenting on interesting issue relating to particular topics.

We have a series of guest 'bloggers' who will be adding posts to this site, giving you the opportunity to hear from a range of voices from Wales and further afield. Please feel free to add comments on the posts or contact us if you would like to participate by either writing a blog or suggesting a topic.

The Confidence Gap

So, what is the confidence gap? A quick Google search and the first suggested result states “the female ‘confidence gap’ is a sham.” Great start but let’s go back to the actual definition first. The confidence gap is a gendered disparity in confidence which leads to women holding themselves back from promotions and pay negotiations despite their competence level. There are many different explanations for this phenomenon, and more than a handful of articles dismissing it entirely, so let’s start with the statistics and facts.

There is no difference in the capabilities of women and men. Women made up 57% of first degree graduates from UK higher education institutions in 2009/2010 and they make up almost half of the workforce. Despite there being no distinction in ability and skills, the further up the corporate hierarchy of almost all organisations you climb, the fewer women you will find (on average only 30.9% of positions) and the women you do find are likely to be on a lower wage than their male counterpart (approximately 15% less per hour). Why is that? Well the first explanation offered up by many is “the confidence gap.”

Women in the Arts: is Wales leading the way?

On 5 August Women of Wales attended the National Eisteddfod 2014 where we hosted a panel discussion titled 'Women in the Arts: is Wales leading the way?' The panel of some of the most prominent Welsh women in the arts included:

Chair: Professor Elan Closs Stephens- Trustee for the BBC in Wales and a professor of Emeritus at Aberystwyth University.
Elen ap Robert- Artistic Director of Bangor University's Arts and Innovation Centre.
Mari Emlyn- Artistic Director of Galeri in Caernarfon and freelance artist.
Marian Wyn Jones- Member of Arts Council Wales and former head of BBC headquarters in North Wales.

The Women in Public Life campaign has been asking why so few women are in decision making roles? However, women's representation in the Arts in Wales seems to be slightly higher than other industries with nearly 40% of women on the board of Arts Council Wales and Wales Online identifying 30% of the most influential people in the Arts in Wales as female. Do we settle for these figures? How can the Arts pave the way for other industries in Wales in terms of gender representation? Here are some of the questions discussed at the event including the panellists' thoughts.

Question: One of the biggest barriers in the Arts is a fear of failing. What other barriers do women in the arts face?

Getting 100% Behind 50/50 for 2020

It’s a well-known fact that women make up half of the population of the world, and over half of the population in Wales, yet this is still not reflected fairly in senior decision making roles in the workplace, in public or third sectors, nor in government.

As has been continually highlighted throughout this portal, if the decision makers are not reflective of the society they are working for, then the needs of that society cannot be fully met.

So if we all know it and have all been talking about it, what can we actually do about it? Well, a good first step and a well needed push in the right direction is the 50/50 by 2020 campaign that launched on the 15th of July. The goal is simple; encourage organisations across all sectors in Wales to increase the number of women in decision making positions to a representative 50% by the year 2020.

Lesotho takes steps to increase women in decision making - Guest blog from Christine O’Byrne

When I arrived in Lesotho to work with the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), I fully expected that we would be working on issues such as gender-based violence, trafficking and child abuse given the high incidence of these cases in Africa.  I was surprised when I discovered that empowering women to take a more active role in public life and decision making is also a key priority.

Traditional views are the root cause of women’s inequality in Lesotho; the country has a strong patriarchal culture which is embedded in homes and communities.  Gender roles are made unequal by society and despite many Basotho women being well educated they still accept a subordinate role.  A high proportion of men work outside of Lesotho in the South African diamond mines, leaving their wives to act as head of the household and yet this authority still does not translate to power in decision making.

Microchipping Away at the STEM Field Gender Gap

LEGO® recently announced that they are set to launch a series of toys featuring female scientists and their lab tools. The sets will include a female astronomer with a telescope, female palaeontologist with a dinosaur skeleton, and female chemist in a lab. This new range of toys has come after the concept got over 10,000 votes via their online forum that offers the opportunity for people to suggest new toys. The overwhelming demand might come as a bit of a surprise given that only 13% of all STEM jobs in the UK are occupied by women. The proportion of Science and Engineering Technicians who are female in 2012 increased by 4.4% from 2008 and continues to rise slightly every year, but 13% is still nowhere near an equal balance. So what is stopping women and girls from following this career path and what can be done to tear down some of these barriers?

“The reason there aren’t more women computer scientists is because there aren’t more women computer scientists,” Jocelyn Goldfein, a director of engineering at Facebook, explains. "If they realise that when I click on a photo and it pops up, that was made by a woman, think how powerful that would be."

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WomenofWales @WomenofWales
WomenofWales [email protected] have a board member vacancy. A good chance to get involved in public life! Closes 14 Sep #POWiPL http://t.co/171HjV8Gap
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WomenofWales [email protected] have trustee vacancies in a number of their branches. Get involved and make a difference! #POWiPL http://t.co/E7nik0mmPB
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WomenofWales We’ve been tweeting from our new blog post ‘the confidence gap.’ Please read and tweet us your opinions! #POWiPL http://t.co/H3r8rXtQSw
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WomenofWales ‘Instead of telling women to be more confident, let’s create a culture that makes them feel worthy’ @JessicaValenti http://t.co/grO3nWAyNs
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WomenofWales In a survey of 500 women 15% believed they are effective negotiators, the rest were put off negotiating after negative experience #POWiPL
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