A British businesswoman has called into question Karmel’s comments on how women can’t keep up with men in the workplace, suggesting that it is damaging to the confidence of aspiring female entrepreneurs.
Beatrice Bartlay, founder and managing director of 2B Interface, has worked in the “man’s world” of manufacturing, and found Karmel’s comments “out-of-touch with the feelings of many modern businesswomen”.
Karmel made the comments at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, whereby she claimed that women are “more sensitive” than men – giving up easily without being able to perform some jobs as well as their male counterparts.
Bartlay said: “As an entrepreneur working in a male-dominated industry, I find Karmel’s statements absolutely preposterous. She seems to use out-dated notions about the difference between men and women, born out of misogyny and backward attitudes. Professional environments can be tough places, full of highs and lows, failures and successes. However, to claim that women cannot cope with this environment due to being ‘too sensitive’ or defeatist is completely unrepresentative of the strength and business acumen possessed by professional women.
“When I founded my business in 2005, there were of course many hardships and difficulties. However, none of these caused me to lose sight of my goal and I remained tenacious in my pursuit of success. The fact that I am a woman in no way held me back, made me feel overwhelmed or feel like giving in.”
Karmel’s suggestion that there are some jobs that women can’t do as well as men follows a survey from Stormline, which found that there are more men named “Andrew” in director level positions in UK companies than there are women in total – with just six per cent of top firm bosses being female.
Bartlay claimed that British businesses needed to make sure that women were better represented in senior positions.
“Broad negative generalisations about women’s value in some businesses do nothing to help this imbalance,” she said. “There needs to be a much bigger focus and higher investment by firms in female talent at the lower to middle management level. This is where the glass ceiling exists.
“As for board quotas – they don’t work, it’s too early. Before setting any quotas we should be looking at the ground up and pushing to improve skills provision, gender equality from the get-go and clear career paths. Buoyant industries such as manufacturing are the perfect place to start.”
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