The one about The Apprentice

11 Apr

In my professional world, where we sneer at the concept of ‘must-see TV’ (for the avoidance of doubt, It No Longer Exists.  Here endeth the lesson), The Apprentice is my guilty secret pleasure.  Yes yes yes, I break my own rule weekly, clearing everything that needs to be done early in the evening so I can sit undisturbed in front of the telly same time, same place (well, to be fair, give or take – we do at last have the chance to stop our TV in its inexorable schedule-driven stride, although I do always sit in the same chair – that dodgy back again).  I bloody love it.

In this series of The Apprentice, more than any other, there are female candidates who universally give a terrible terrible impression of the working woman, and in at least one case, the working mum.

I know it’s good TV, and it is, oh it IS good TV, but how can anyone say that being chastised by Lord Sugar or erring at one of the spot-check business acumen tasks upset them more than hearing their weeping seven-year-old child on the phone the night before, begging them to come home?  Career mums have pushed back against this mistaken conviction that we have to apparently feel more for the projects we birth than our offspring; that somehow loving the children we produce is a sign of weakness, and all we actually care about is the work we generate, for years, rebelling against the belief that we must be somehow emotionally vacant in order to get ahead.  It doesn’t do our gender or our unique skills any favours, behaving like this, and risks removing the traits we have that can make us stand out from the crowd.

So hopefully people watching The Apprentice continue to take it with a pinch of salt, view its contestants as selected for their good-for-TV potential, rather than as typical representatives of the creme de la creme of women and working mums of the business world, and keep it filed under ‘light entertainment’ not ‘how women must behave to get ahead in business’.  I, for one, don’t have the required emotional ‘off’ switch, not to mention the suits, considerable hair or make-up collection.

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