22 March, 2011


Oh what a tangled web we weave...

... when we get wrapped up in the ramifications of diversity policy.

These days an intending employer's statement of inclusiveness tends to run to a couple of paragraphs at the end of the advertisement, in order to reassure one-legged Lesbian Amazonian Dwarves with learning difficulties that their application will be treated with the fairness it deserves. In simpler times, when diversity was still in short pants, it was the custom to emphasize simply that roles historically dominated by one or other gender were now open to both equally. In English this is conventionally done by adding the formula "(m/f)" to the job title, as in

Poledancers (m/f)
Bricklayers (m/f)
Midwives (m/f)

An ad in the current New Scientist recruiting staff for a German subsidiary of John Wiley & Sons is seeking

Publisher, Physics (f/m)
Commissioning Editor, Materials Science (f/m)
Trainee, Materials Science... (f/m)

Is this some obscure booktrade abbreviation (freemason? fully manicured? free magazines? folding motorcycle?) or is the writer indicating, as he/she seems to me to be, gender equality of opportunity?

'Cos, if the latter, I'm intrigued by the unidiomatic usage. Does the f come first because it's earlier in the alphabet, in which case the small-mindedness implied is terrifying.

Or does the f come first 'cos the writer is being chivalrarse to the ladies? That doesn't bear thinking about. Images of "Don't call me Love" feministas exploding with indignation right, left and centre. (Oh, I don't know though...)

What a complicated world we live in. Sod this, I'm off out to glare haughtily at some Nigerians. I'm hoping to be "granted" a CRASBO for my sixty-third birthday.

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