Clean sweeps and clear-outs

I’ve quoted Virginia Woolf before:  “The cheapness of writing paper is, of course, the reason why women have succeeded as writers before they have succeeded in other professions.”  Well, the latest Costa prizewinner list certainly does something to say she was right about that success.  It’s not technically a clean sweep: a husband gets in there as the illustrator of the graphic memoir Dotter of her Father’s Eyes (what a triple hit of a title).  Alongside Mary and Bryan Talbot are the  novelist Hilary Mantel, new writer Francesca Segal, poet Kathleen Jamie, and children’s author, Sally Gardner.    Can anyone put up a similar example of prizewinning dominance in a competition open to all?  Add that to the chart-topping sales of JK Rowling and the 50 Shades of Grey – neither of them probably quite what Virginia had in mind but these authors and the contexts from which they shot to success do add to her argument.

Compare this with the experience of Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, just convicted of offering to sell information about the phone-hacking scandal to the News of the World.  I’m not in any position to offer judgement on the rights or wrongs of what she did.  But she was the only woman in a 60-strong Met Police financial investigations unit, and obviously did not fit in with whatever the culture was.    The contrast is not in the money needed to become a successful policewoman, more in the personal investment. DCI Casburn left school after O-levels, so wasn’t a fast-track entry into the police. I don’t know how many grades she had to pass through to get to her eventual position but stepping up and in to that job has obviously been personally very costly.   Her story is not likely to encourage other women to put themselves in her position.

An instant emphatic yes to the point that men also suffer stress and isolation at work.  This blog is absolutely anti black/white polarisation – maybe not 50 but several shades of grey making up the continuum of experiences shared by men and women.   The PP simply points to the fact that women are in general less likely to be able to exercise their competences, particularly in organisations or units with a 59:1 ratio male-female ratio.

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