Catherine Mayer: Women are Turning a Blind Eye to Discrimination

Catherine Mayer, perhaps best known for her biography of Prince Charles, has claimed that many women are ignoring discrimination in the workplace after being ‘co-opted into sexist organisations’. This comes off of the back of recent news that Mayer is suing her previous employer Time on the grounds of age and gender discrimination.

A founding member of the Women’s Equality Party, Mayer asserts that many women are perpetuating inequality by ignoring, or even participating in sexist attitudes. Writing about the matter the author stated, “This is the point about systemic sexism and ageism. It co-opts people who should oppose it. It perpetuates itself by hiding behind our habitual silence.” And without voices of those involved condemning the actions, they are, instead, condoning sexist behaviour.

But where does this come from?

Back in 2015 Ms Mayer, 56, was fired as Time magazine’s regional editor for Europe. In a case being brought against her former employer, she alleges that a younger male colleague, Matt McAllester, was given her job after a campaign to ‘undermine’ her. Time, of course, vehemently deny the claim.

In an article written for The Pool magazine, the author elaborated on the discrimination she has faced, “There are many reasons women put up and shut up, rather than calling out workplace discrimination.”

“We train ourselves to ignore the smaller irritants, the sexist comments, the ill-conceived jokes, the minor incursions into our private space. We know that if we object, we are at least as likely as the targets of our complaints to find ourselves marked down by managers as weak or disruptive.”

Though Mayer’s searing gaze isn’t just fixed on Time, she has also called out the Labour party, stating that many left wing politicians were blinded by ‘their own sense of virtue’, and are equally as guilty of overlooking misogyny.

Speaking the The Times, the author also went on to praise female BBC presenters such as Clare Balding, Victoria Derbyshire and Jenni Murray who recently signed a letter to the director general demanding equal pay after revelations about the corporation’s staggering gender pay gap.

Making a rallying call to women at work, she urged those who are experiencing sexism to lift the lid and remain silent no longer: “To navigate a system is also to enable it. To make more fundamental change, we are going to have to fight harder.

“If you constantly push back against the institution or call out individuals, you and not the institution or the individual are likely to be marked as the problem.

Mayer claims that her sacking was ‘dressed up’ as redundancy, a claim bolstered by the fact that her performance reviews were ‘excellent’. Time told her that it no longer required her skills and experience, in a move that she says is quickly multiplying across the industry.

Magazines and newspapers are losing revenue at an alarming rate, and, according to Mayer, they are attempting to do the same job with fewer and younger staff. However, this does nothing to address the inequities of the organisations and instead just further widens a gap between the paper’s staff and its readership.

In their rebuttal a Time spokesman said: “The allegations are untrue and wholly without merit. We are going to vigorously defend them and we will do so in court, not in the press. We have no further comment at this time.”

Mayer’s non-fiction, Attack of the 50ft. Women, was published this year and is well worth a read. The book covers the benefits of gender equality and how it’s being promoted in various countries.

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