Business News Site Covertly Erases Men From Stories to Highlight Sexism
"They did nothing wrong — we were just jerks — but that’s discrimination for you.”
In an attempt to highlight the sexism that exists across Australia’s business landscape, business news website Which-50 removed all direct references to men throughout the entirety of its published July articles.
As part of the month-long experiment, the website secretly censored all images and news about men by either referring to them as “spokespeople” or entirely abolishing them from articles. In the revealing Which-50 cover story, entitled "No Man’s Land," the company announced that its experiment resulted in a significant drop in social presence and audience numbers.
“For the month of July, we secretly erased men from Which-50,” the company announced. "Our audience numbers dropped, our social presence evaporated, and we annoyed people who for years have helped us build our brand off the back of their hard work and expertise. They did nothing wrong — we were just jerks — but that’s discrimination for you.”
Among the censored senior executives were Amazon Australia boss Rocco Bräuniger, Nine Network CEO Hugh Marks, Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood, CEO of Domain Jason Pellegrino, and the Group Managing Director of Networks at Telstra Mike Wright.
Throughout July, 45 women were featured within the articles published on Which-50 — double the website's usual numbers. However, despite the company's best efforts, 70 “faceless and nameless men” still dominated the pages.
“We’ve doubled the number of women mentioned on Which-50 month-over-month, but that still doesn’t come close to the 111 men we wrote about in June,” the article stated. “This month would have been easier on us if we had co-opted the industry’s help and lined up 20 female executives to interview ahead of time. In the end, we rejected that approach because the worst kinds of discrimination happen in the dark, not in the light — although a surprising amount occurs in plain sight.”
The biggest challenges that arose throughout the experiment revolved around actually finding women executives to feature, as well as finding women who were willing to share their stories.
“Sadly, executive recruiters tell us that it’s actually easier to get women on boards rather than into the C-suite. That’s why, at an operational level, the number of female CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and CMOs and other C-suite roles has not radically shifted from where it was a decade ago.”
The latest index performance results from the 200 largest public companies on the ASX 200 list revealed that only 11 of 200 CEOs were women.
CEO of humanitarian organisation Plan International Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen believes even with anti-discrimination laws in place, deeply rooted gender norms and expectations continue to hold women and girls back.
"Countries like Germany, Switzerland, and the United States are in the vanguard for gender equality thanks to their excellent anti-discrimination laws and policies and high female labour-force participation. But focusing on these areas is not enough," she announced in a statement.
"No country will come even close to true gender equality unless they broaden their focus beyond laws, policies and equal access to services and employment to also tackle harmful gender norms."
For the editors and writers behind the social challenge, it seems the experiment has only reinforced the difficulties and inequalities that face women in an industry and ,more often than not, a world that significantly favours men.
"This is not a story about women,” the company announced. “This is a story about men, and why we chose to bring a bazooka to the diversity knife fight. The current approaches simply don’t move the needle fast enough.”