Are men and women really equal?

By Rosamund Witcher
Are men and women really equal?

There are several things men can do that women can’t. Grow a decent beard, for instance. Wee standing up. Go topless in public (although, frankly, that’s usually ill-advised). But these are physical differences. In terms of intelligence, ambition and skill, it is generally accepted that men and women are on an equal footing. It is 2010, after all.

However, in recent weeks, high-profile men have spoken out about women’s inability to do certain jobs as well as men. Last month, Ceri Thomas, editor of Radio 4’s Today programme, defended the lack of female presenters on the show by saying that ‘it’s just too tough an environment’.

He went on to explain that there are more women on the BBC News Channel ‘because those are slightly easier jobs. The skill set that you need to work on the Today programme and the hide that you need, the thickness of that, is something else. It’s an incredibly difficult place to work.’

As if being too thin-skinned to host a current affairs programme weren’t enough, the author Bret Easton Ellis has claimed that women don’t make good film directors.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — Jane Campion, Andrea Arnold and Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow, anyone? — Ellis claims we don’t have the ability to be ‘aroused by looking’. Why? Because of ‘how they’re built’, apparently. It’s worth noting that the film adaptation of his book, American Psycho (pictured), was directed by Mary Harron. Yes, a woman.

But does Ellis have a point? Yesterday’s Woman’s Hour had an interview with headteacher Dave Strudwick about how neuroscience has found that boys and girls learn differently, and should be taught accordingly.

Does this prove that there more inherent differences between the sexes than we are willing to admit? What do you think?

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