Let’s discuss something that would never happen.
Say Mexico’s Agustín Carstens had been chosen as the new head of the International Monetary Fund. Would we have seen a nice graphic about other influential men?
Of course not. After all, there are just too many to count.
Nobody would even suggest it.
But The Times greeted Christine Largarde’s selection as Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s successor with oodles of praise for the new “First lady of finance” and a delightful sidebar of other “Women at the top”. Incidentally, all they could come up with was Hillary, Oprah, Angela Merkel and Irene Rosenfeld.
Well done, little lady, screamed this article and many others. You’ve overcome all the obstacles, risen against the odds.
You can wear a bra and still rule the world. You go girl.
Now, I’m well aware Lagarde is the first woman in charge of one of the post-war financial institutions. That is an achievement, and it’s not wrong to discuss the implications for the so-called glass ceiling.
Still. There’s no need to be quite so patronising about it.
There’s no need to mark the success of one individual, who happens to be female, by making her a poster child for every other successful woman out there.
Can’t we judge each one on their own merit, and acknowledge that just as some will succeed, others will fail. And that their gender has nothing to do with that.
Because if the glass ceiling had really and truly been smashed, we wouldn’t need a list of successful women just like Christine to illustrate it.