Tuesday, 14 April 2015

So Long Boys - we're racing past you into the Boardroom

Emma Thompson striking a blow for the sisterhood (Huffpo)

A new book out this week claims that women are not only powering past men in the race for top jobs, in years to come they might no longer need men at all. The author, biological anthropologist Melvin Konner, presents a futuristic world view that suggests women will eventually be able to fertilise their eggs with skin cell clones to reproduce.
According to Konner, the gender imbalance is relatively recent - about 12,000 years - which is a sneeze in evolutionary terms. There's a long explanation of how the world view is moving to see traditionally 'female' strengths as useful once more. It seems we always had it in us. So what's taken us so long?

I can tell you what. Heels. Other than not having a wife, I think heels have done more to hold women back from playing to their natural strengths than almost anything.

Unless you benefit from a chauffeur taking you to work and back every day, a typical senior woman has to plan her outfit round her shoes. Each night you have to ask yourself, "what meetings do I have tomorrow? Who am I going to see? How am I going to get there? How far do I have to walk? Is it going to rain?"
The choice is always the same and it's always bad. A) wear a dress or skirt with flat or nearly flat boots b)wear flats and take a bag to carry your heels/smart shoes or c) take two bags, one for shoes and a 'proper' handbag. Which leads to the other part of your wardrobe dilemma, "which bag do I take?" Do you buy a massive tote that is smart enough to pass for a large handbag but still large enough to take the shoes? If you want to do that and avoid the bag lady look, be prepared to shell out. Both options risk severe neck problems and one shoulder lower than the other. If you're loaded or desperate there is always option d) take taxis everywhere.

No wonder we didn't have time to worry about a career plan to get the top job.

Unlike men. Do they have these worries? Do they hell. Most men own a few pairs of - flat - shoes that go with all their suits and they wear them in all weathers. If they carry bags at all it's to carry their increasingly large collection of devices, and with rapid advances in wearable technology, no doubt even those will soon be redundant.

I had resigned myself to a life of expensive large handbags and sneaky shoe changes. But it seems women have finally worked out that wearing smart flats is the secret to smoothing your path to the top job. If you can get the right flats you remove the bag dilemma. I first registered this thought last year when the wonderful Emma Thompson whipped off her Louboutins at the Golden Globes to present an award in bare feet. I splashed out on a pair of the red-soled wonders a few years ago, and although they look wonderful and have carried me faithfully through any number of events, I have often kicked them off under the table during dinner. 

VB sporting flats in New York (Mirror)
Then I started reading about sales of designer flats going up, Victoria Beckham put them in her Spring collection and articles keep appearing exhorting the benefits of 'luxe' trainers costing as much as a smart pair of heels. The trend has hit the mainstream.  I searched for a sight of heels this week in the office, on the tube and in Oxford Street to no avail.  And no sign of the two-bag strategy either.  Just confident women finding out what men have always known.  Flat feels great.  You feel mobile, free and powerful. Mind you, when I opened my wardrobe this weekend and saw hundreds of pounds of designer heels looking back at me, I had a spasm of heel guilt.  But my slim-line bag collection is coming along nicely.