Saturday, July 21, 2007

Birmingham power 50?

The Birmingham Posts Top 50 most powerful people list was published today, I've had a quick look through and some interesting statistics:

45 of Birmingham's top 50 are male
4 are female

Encouragingly 14 of the list are involved in the Creative Industries from the following sectors/roles (by my reckoning).
- Arts council Chair and Arts centre Director *
- Marketing         
- Dance
- Music
- Software designer
- Architect
- Music maker
- Publishing
- Radio presenter
- TV maker
- Artist
- Curator Gallery Director
- Music administrator *
- Journalism

(*2 of the 4 women listed are involved in the Creative Industries (neither are on the list as practitioners)

I do not wish to belittle any of the contributions those on the list have made to the city, region and beyond, but the list as it stands begs some quite obvious questions namely: where are the women on the list? Does this mean there are only 4 influential women in Birmingham? this is not my experience? where are the creative women in Birmingham, why aren't they listed here? and finally what can one do to redress the balance, to highlight and similarly celebrate their contribution?

It would be good to have a look at the criteria and try to develop an alternative listing and I do not mean a women only list. Any suggestions for whom should be considered?


Robert Sharl said...

Actually, we might really need a 'women-only' list. Perhaps our ideas of what constitutes 'power and influence' are skewed too heavily to be really useful. I can think of a bunch of women that I really rate, but I'm not sure they'd want to be judged in terms of the kind of potential the Power 50 list seems to be looking for. I'm uncomfortable even with the name of the list.. is 'power' really what we're looking for?

And if you're asking us, I think you can't get away with not telling us: Who would you put here?

Catherine said...

Agree just four women is shocking. That's a worse ratio than the Conservatives manage in Parliament.

Picking up on what Robert says, this is a very institutionalised list - lots of "old guard" type figures, by which I don't mean the ages of the people involved, but the kinds of companies many represent (there are exceptions, of course). It's a pretty old fashioned definition of power too.

They've also shown a tendency to pick the most visible figureheads of an organisation over those who run it in a day-to-day sense. Who has the real power? That depends on what you mean by power. PAs have massive amounts of power, but you're never going to see them on a power list like this.

Personally, I'm deputy editor on Channel 4's TEN4 magazine and commissioning editor for 4Talent West Midlands and find I deal with a more even mix of genders in the creative industries than the proportions in this list would suggest, but there are still more guys than gals in our department. Although nationally, the 4Talent staff gender ratio is 2:1 in favour of the ladies. Perhaps it's a West Midlands thing?! Although Maverick TV, where our Midlands offices are based, has a very equal mix of lads and lasses.

I'd like to see an Influence list more than a Power list.

Charlotte Carey said...

Thanks both for your comments - I am getting round to responding properly with another posting. With some possible suggestions of my own - both possible women and also some thoughts about influence, power and so on - these are issues I have been considering and coming up against a lot in my own research - 'Gender and Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries' where issues around the role women play in the sector are continually arising. As are questions around power, influence, creativity and opportunities.

Mark Badger said...

perhaps it should be top 25 men and top 25 women but to be honest I'm sick of the whole divide by gender, postcode etc. How about a top 50 most interesting, most influencial, or something like most significant contributor to local culture or something along those lines.

Charlotte Carey said...

Hi Mark

Thank you for your response.

This is tricky - I wouldn't, I don't think, suggest that gender (or any other such criteria) be taken into account when compiling such a list .

I agree the criteria for such a list should be around who is - as you say 'most interesting, most influencial, or something like most significant contributor to local culture or something along those lines'. And giving the benefit of the doubt the list described was presumably based upon these or similar criteria.

Given this benefit of the doubt I was just a little stunned that so few women appeared on this list. This is not to say that those listed are the wrong people. I haven't studied the criteria by which they were selected and am not necessarily a better judge. But for me it raises a lot of questions. I guess a pretty obvious and crass one would be how would it feel if it were the other way around?

There are more constructive questions of course and I intend to put some more thought to all of these shortly.


Anonymous said...

45 of Birmingham's top 50 are male
4 are female

That is 49, who or what is missing?

Anonymous said...

I am actually extremely surprised I made it. But as a creative professional in the city, I am glad I am on there. I found out someone had recommended me on the Post's website and then people heard the list was pretty conventional and institutionalized and then I started getting quite a lot of recommendations. They say they want to include more 'creatives' next year but I think that the way of selecting people needs to be changed.

BTW I look nothing like the 5 yr old pic they have of me, the text is incorrect and no one never contacted me :-(

Justice Williams MBE

Justice Williams MBE