OPINION: Why we must stop pitching genders against each other at work

Prime Minister David Cameron, leaves Downing Street ahead of the State Opening of Parliament in the

David Cameron, who famously told a fellow MP to "Calm down, dear" in the House of Commons in 2011 - Credit: PA

It’s been a decade since former prime minister David ‘Call Me Dave’ Cameron delivered his sexist put down to shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Angela Eagle in the Commons: “Calm down, dear".

In some ways, we’ve come a long way in 10 years, but in others it feels like we’re going backwards.

Through some eyes, Cameron’s wife Samantha made a strike for the sisterhood this week when she said her husband loves employing women because they work harder and don’t have the fragile egos of male counterparts. Power to the women!

Through other eyes, the accolade of harder workers merely shone a light on how women had to try harder to prove themselves, that they were just as proficient as the men he could have employed but were made to feel they had to prove it. Same old, same old.

Did it occur to him that his female employees were conscientious perfectionists working long hours because they feared any mistakes would be picked up and used as evidence of unsuitability or weakness?

Statements comparing men and women in a workplace are spectacularly unhelpful in creating a world of equality and fairness.

Any successful workplace needs a mix of personalities, genders, character traits and skills to be successful, and the best people for the jobs.

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Persisting in pointing out skills and performance based on gender stymies progress and continues to highlight shameful polarisation of abilities based on gender.

Individuals have different attitudes, egos and personalities.

It’s just as overtly sexist and discriminatory for an employer to say she will employ only women for a job as it is for a man to say he only wants men in certain positions.

Since time began, men expect their lives to develop in a certain way.

They have expectations to lead and be successful. Women have been made by society to believe they have to work harder to prove they are as good at all the above as men, regardless of if they are or not. Such expectations that success and leadership will come to them are not shaped like men.

Even Theresa May, the UK’s second female prime minister, shamefully referred to the division by gender “pink and blue” domestic jobs.

Cameron may have noticed that women worked harder for him because they felt they had to prove they were good enough. That says more about his attitude and expectation than theirs.

Women still face every day in a world built for men.

Women talk about how work uniforms are designed for men; PPE doesn’t protect them properly and even the formula to determine standard office temperature was developed in the 1960s around the metabolic resting rate of the average man.

Crash-test dummies are based on the ‘average’ male and yet another example of design that forgets about women’s physique, and like bullet-proof vests designed for men, puts lives at risk

Women tend to bear the brunt of caring, domestic and family tasks and juggle everyday life like a jigsaw, fitting multiple parts together for it all to work. But many men I know are just as burden-carrying and adept jugglers.

Yet Alistair Campbell interviewed by Stephen Mangan in his Confessions BBC series last week seemed proud that he had never used a vacuum cleaner, washing machine or done any DIY because he wasn’t good at it, lucky that Fiona, his partner of 40-odd years, was good at all the above.

This was Fiona Millar, who had an equally demanding and stellar career – and no doubt worked as hard as him as well as doing everything at home

Women are sometimes better at jobs than men – and sometimes men are better than women.

It’s expectation that divides gender. Women don’t expect as much because they haven’t been conditioned to. Men grow up with expectation of promotion, their voices to be heard, to make the progress.

Women rarely have fragile egos, we apologise too readily, tend to see the bigger picture and are super-flexible and adaptable, self critical and self aware, often with a crippling lack of confidence fearful of being ‘exposed’ for being frauds.

We are rarely proficient at the ‘political’ game-playing in the workplace and tend to open, transparent and get on with the job.

But some men are all the above too, while women have gargantuan Queen Bee egos, are aggressive, entitled and would kill their grannies for a top job.

Pitching genders against each other merely entrenches the polarisation and prejudice we would hate our children to suffer.

We must stop the ‘she does this because she is female, he does this because he is male’ attitude.

Police need their own personality: The perennial gripe of police officers is that the public don’t understand what they deal with.

Their social media accounts gave them a voice to share a police officer’s lot with their community, in times of fewer police on the beat opened interaction with the people they might have regularly seen years ago, and gave individual officers personality, authenticity, public understanding and support.

Norfolk Police is so wrong and taking a backward step to order its officers to shut down individual social media accounts striking out this important accessibility that complements neighbourhood policing.

A replacement bland corporate branded social media voice is a waste of time.

Norfolk police say it is following guidelines from the National Police Chief’s Council and not unique.

We want Norfolk to be unique.