I can’t help but feel that gender difference has indeed played a role in the Chelsea FC doctor saga propelling the story to newspaper front pages – but perhaps not just simply down to the display of apparent sexism by an emotional male manager. It strikes me that the mild, but meaningful, Facebook posting by Dr Eva Carneiro was the emotional reaction of a woman feeling hard-done-by.
Such gentle, but determined, defiance shown by a woman against a perceived unfairness is what I think marks out one of the key difference between the sexes. I have been deeply fortunate in recent months to meet several incredible women who, having long abided the male-dominated structure in which they operate, have each had cause to show remarkable strength of character to defy the system when injustice has reared its ugly head. They’ve bravely, and rightly, ignored the ‘don’t make a fuss’ mantra of predominantly male lawyers, doctors, politicians, establishment bigwigs (and their advisors), police officers, professors and the like, to succeed in highlighting some very different, but equally troubling, issues.
I have never been a bra-waving, unshaven member of the feminist club – if such a set exists. I’m of the view that the glass ceiling can be readily shattered if you are sufficiently determined, energetic, resourceful and smart. However I am beginning to realise that if there’s a wrong that needs righting, a moral convention that needs challenging, or a societal system that needs rebalancing, it’s the female of the species that more often than not bravely puts her head above the parapet and coalesces her community to create beneficial change. It’s true these women are often supported in their endeavours by many a courageous man, blessed as many males are with analytical function and a deep-rooted sense of probity. But if there’s a cause to be fought for, I’ll join those ranks led by a woman inspired any day.
When I consider the ‘religious’ problems of sections of the Middle East with their patriarchal systems and cruel brutality, I am confident it will be the women of the region who will eschew violence and instead demonstrate the strength needed to bring equality and fairness where it is yet to exist.
Men show their power, bravery, determination and quest for success in different ways. There will always be male achievers whose accomplishments we can joyously celebrate. But where less-applauded but important challenges exist, I back women to succeed.
Dr Carneiro, already a rare woman in a male-dominated field, may have inadvertently started a chain of soul-searching to find an acceptable balance between safety and success on a pitch. Women tend to call it cheating if grown men, uninjured, are left rolling around on the ground.
In my view, Dr Carneiro should avoid the phalanx of lawyers advising her she’s got a watertight claim for constructive dismissal, discrimination and the like. Her long term reputation will likely be better served by moving to an environment that fully recognises her talents and where she can spearhead the discussion of wealth versus welfare. Rugby has considered the issue during its incidents of concussion, and grand tour cycling is getting there, in its own way. The injustice is less about the side-lining meted out to Dr Carneiro, and more about the pressure placed on medics to turn a blind eye to illness or injury for the sake of the sport. Dr Carneiro should run into the arena once more.