Great coverage in yesterday’s Irish Times of the General Election results.  Over 12 inside pages, there are stories and statistics from around the constituencies, plus plenty of photographs of successful and unsuccessful candidates at the various count centres.

Now only 15% of the total candidates in the election were women, and the same proportion of the successful candidates were women.

However, the Irish Times seemed to be adhering to a 40% quota rule, as 10 of the 24 candidates it featured in photographs from count centres were women (including all 4 on page 15).   This is nearly three times the number one would expect, if the photographs chosen for publication were selected randomly and accurately reflected the gender divide among candidates.

I’m not complaining about this, as nothing much turns on it.  Just pointing it out.  I suppose that if I were a sub-editor in the Tara Street gynecocracy, I too would be keen to show my awareness of gender issues by including as many photos of our TD sisters as is possible.  The fact that 85% of voters actually choose to elect men is neither here nor there.

 Last April, it was reported in the news that (a) President McAleese had launched a new fund dedicated solely to women’s causes (“The Women’s Fund for Ireland”) and (b) that she claimed that the current economic situation was “pretty much testosterone driven”.  At the launch, it was claimed that there were 200 women’s funds worldwide and that there was clearly a need for funding specifically for women.

I was expecting a degree of protest at President McAleese’s comments (where’s her scientific evidence that testosterone had anything to do with our economic crisis?), or even a question or two about whether a fund dedicated solely to women’s causes was necessary or appropriate.  But hardly a peep was registered.  Now, if our President had launched a fund dedicated solely to men’s causes, there would have been a landslide of critical comment.  What does this tell us about our media, or about how we are all still conditioned to think of women as victims in the game of life?

But it is predominantly men who are the academic underachievers, the criminal offenders, the drug addicts, and the morbidly unhealthy.  Men work longer hours, die years younger than women and are now under-represented in third-level education.  Men’s health issues receive far less taxpayer funding than women’s health issues. 

But I don’t expect to read any day soon about a new fund dedicated solely to men’s causes (“The Men’s Fund for Ireland” anybody?)