(Faux-empowerment, neoliberal, micro-led, woman-blaming subjugation.)
Image: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg: ‘Want it enough, say these these wealthy women, and you can achieve anything.’ Photograph: Pascal Lauener/Reuters.
What would you do with £119,000? It’s a nice problem to have, but not one the majority of us will ever have to grapple with, given that the average UK income is £26,500.
The £119,000 threshold is what it takes to become one of the UK’s super-rich, the top 1% of earners in the country. They are concentrated in sectors such as finance and business, and between them they are worth more than £250bn to the UK’s economy. It also just so happens that only one in five of them are women, according to new research released by the LSE.
This should be of little surprise to anyone, given that gender inequality continues to permeate every sphere of life, the upper echelons of the corporate world included. Under-representation is rife, old boys’ networks persist, and a pay gap emerges as a result. It’s just one manifestation of a social order in which women are marginalised.
But while this is undoubtedly frustrating for the individual women held back by a glass ceiling at the very top of their careers, it’s difficult to see it as a key feminist issue in the context of the visceral economic inequalities facing the UK’s most disadvantaged women.
This brand of “corporate feminism” concerned with women in boardrooms and the equal distribution of millionaires has gained much attention over the last few years, in large part due to the “lean in” philosophies of top businesswomen such as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer. Work hard, dream big, want it enough, say these these wealthy, white, highly educated women, and you can achieve anything.
It’s attractive as a marketing exercise for gender equality: the onus is on individuals to just try a bit harder, while systemically unequal structures keep ticking along in the background.