What you may not have heard (unless you come from her birth town where banners outside newsagents declared ‘Local lass awarded MBE’) is that my wife of 23 years, my design and business partner of 25 years, the always lovely Gerardine Hemingway was also awarded an MBE. In fact, many of you may not have heard of Gerardine, even though she co-founded Red or Dead and HemingwayDesign with me, has always headed up the design teams and is probably more creative than yours truly. I accept that she hasn’t got as big a mouth as me, and doesn’t always feel comfortable doing media stuff, but the main reason is she’s a woman.
I have lost count of the number of articles about our companies, our products, our designs that have been oh so imaginatively titled ‘Wayne’s World’, within which it’s not unusual for Gerardine to be referred to as Wayne’s wife. It’s all symptomatic of a world (and I can’t believe I am writing this in 2007) that is being far too slow to acknowledge women’s capabilities. There are plenty of facts out there that society should be ashamed of, such as the fact that at current rates it will take 40 years to achieve an equal number of female directors, with only one in 18 directors being a woman. In the last six years in the housing industry I have rarely come across women in senior decision making positions. You find the show homes and sales centres full of women (often a four-two-four formation of blondes, solid, senior Tony Adams – style centre backs to hold the backline acting as a dependable anchor and selling to the real decision – and homemaker, the woman, while the young, frisky short-skirted Aaron Lennon-style winger does all the flash moves and keeps the man of the house happy).
There seems to be a ‘glass ceiling’ in terms of women getting into senior positions in the housing industry, but it’s time for women and men alike to take a big brick and cob it through that ceiling because the housing industry is suffering bland, unimaginative homes, with poorly conceived layouts and a dearth of community spaces. It all seems a bit daft when it’s generally women who care more about homes and home environments. It may be a shared purchase, but women generally make the decisions on how a family lives in its home, on the furniture, on the outside spaces, on the decor. We men may like to have a say when it comes to the family car or the lawn mower, but how many men in male/female relationships actually plan the decor, the layouts, the furnishings? The female of the species, across the vast majority of species, are the nest makers, so an argument that men are getting more in touch with their feminine side doesn’t really hold sway when it comes to delivering our homes.
Anyhow, enough of this rant, must dash: Wayne’s Wife MBE has just called a design meeting.