I was up for the better part of last night watching a marathon presentation of the first two seasons of Mad Men
, a TV drama about a posh advertising agency in the 1960s. This is really addictive stuff, believe it or not, if only for the stunning changes in social mores in the short span of 50 years. Everyone in the show smokes, and smokes incessantly, in meetings, at the dinner table, in bed. As well, the amount of booze that is imbibed in each episode is phenomenal…three-martini lunches, scotch and soda mid-afternoon breaks, wine and cocktails at dinner. And let’s not even talk about the blatant prejudice expressed with horrific ignorance of the most basic principles of human rights and dignity.
But what I found most interesting was the way women were portrayed in the series – North American post-war machismo is slowly eroding under insidious (r)evolution by women who were just beginning to learn how to use power. While home and work relationships appear to be down-home Americana (housewives and secretaries), the seeds are planted and beginning to sprout, soon to bloom into some of the late 60s and early 70s movements that presaged today’s changed environments.
So why am I talking about this on the Women’s Enterprise Centre website? While certainly there has been progress and change, I don’t believe we are quite yet there. ‘There’ is the equal treatment and opportunity that women continue to strive for but haven’t yet attained. Today the bias is not as blatant as it was 50 years ago; the systemic inequities are covert, but no less harmful.
A recent study
done by the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University investigated why women receive just 4.2% of venture capital funding. Their conclusion was that “the playing field is not level for women entrepreneurs” and that “it is time to break down the barriers to their success.” Recommendations include the need for women to gain more experience in technical fields, increase networking opportunities, and promote the business case for women entrepreneurs.
More on this in days to come.