This week we have seen Andy Gray, Sky Sports commentator, lose his job over comments made about a female referee’s assistant and a co-worker.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of what has been said, you can watch the videos below, but what I would say is that Andy Gray is a dinosaur that is all too common in the technology industry.
Many have said that Andy Gray is being punished for comments made in private and therefore the punishment is far too severe, especially as ‘we all say things in private that we wouldn’t want the public to know’.
But it isn’t just the fact that he got caught and shouldn’t say these things in public but that it needs to be made clear that:
- Making such comments, especially when you are a role model in the media, shouldn’t go without punishment.
- That these comments are completely false. The fact that Sian Massey got the biggest decision, ironically an offside decision, spot on shows that the criticism was wrong.
So what does this have to do with the technology industry? Well, it’s the fact that
there are men like Andy Gray everywhere in industry.
Maybe they haven’t been caught, maybe they never will but the idea that women can’t do a job as well as a man is rife in the technology industry as women struggle to break glass ceilings put in place by men and also struggle to match their male colleagues wages for doing the same job.
The men that make the decisions to employ someone or to set someone’s wage have a responsibility to be fair and to judge on their ability to the job regardless of race or sex.
We know these people exist but, unlike Andy Gray, they never make their beliefs known and keep their motives hidden which in many ways is far more dangerous as we then look at the statistics and find that it is these people that dictate far more than we’d like them to.
Not making sexist comments doesn’t make you les sexist if you tend to recruit and promote men ahead of women because you can’t imagine a woman can, for example, manage a technology department and is better suited to the kitchen.
Sian Massey’s career has been affected now as she was withdrawn from the last match that she was asked to officiate and has had her life turned upside down despite doing a fantastic job.
It’s sad and I hope it won’t affect her future in the game. I also hope that the person who took the decision to give her this opportunity doesn’t hesitate the next time such an opportunity arises because football, just like technology, needs people to push the boundaries and make these decisions until they become a normal and accepted part of the industry.
Sacking Andy Gray shouldn’t just be seen as a punishment for his actions but also as an opportunity to educate people and make some strides on a very dificult problem.