The Tall Street Journal

The Apprentice Wannabe doing Tall Women No Favours.

What is it with The Apprentice (UK)? It’s like a caricature of women in business – either they are are more aggressive than a Rottweiler with PMT or they are so over-emotional they’d give Gwyneth Paltrow a run for her money doing an Oscar’s acceptance speech.

Everytime a new series turns up, it seems the women follow some kind of un-written script and immediately slot into one of these stereotypes. Once they have done that, you have to cringe through the first few tasks where they then begin arguing, b*tching and incompetently muddling their way through. Ultimately loosing the battle of Men ‘V’ Women. Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not obssessed with winning said battle but if we do loose, I want to loose for the right reasons.

My worry is, those people who believe everything their TV tells them might believe that this is actually a true representation of women in business and that just isn’t true! Women have incredible strengths, tolence and a huge range of talents. However as a young woman in business, it can sometimes be extremely difficult and that is without some of your colleagues making some crack about you being cold-hearted, ruthless and ineffective. Of course, on top of this you then add the fact that I’m not only a young woman but that I’m very tall as well and that has people immediately making assumptions and shoving me into a box that not only doesn’t fit but that I can’t seem to ever escape.

So, being seen as professional woman was already sometimes challenging and then, as if she is the poster child of my worst nightmare, along came 6ft tall Debra Barr. She is very quickly proving to be the sterotype incarnate of exactly what everyone expected and for me, the epitome of everything I abhor about the worst of women in business. It’s almost like she feels that she must ‘act like a man’ (as she must see it) and overly develop traits often more associated with a city trading shark. Throughout this series, she has shown little talent for anything other than an aggression and shown herself to be a cold person who domineers, bitches and lies her way through tasks.

Any tall woman will tell you that she is endlessly tagged as aggressive, dominant and scary – and that’s just from walking into the room yet alone when you open your mouth and prove to have a both a mind and an opinion. Many people seem to find extreme height in women a truly intimidating force and men in particular seem to find it threatening. Now, combine that pre-conception with the traits that Debra has shown in Series 5 and you have a walking, talking thorn-in-the-side every tall woman out there, and most definitely those in business. There is no finesse, no kindness, no sublety,no yield, no grace…

Consider some of the most successful women in business, Anya Hindmarch, Sahar Hashemi, Kelly Hoppen or Linda (LK) Bennett and none of them seem to have anything in common with women like Debra. Whereas I am not disputing that businesswomen do need to possess a tenacious, determined nature and that there are times when the stereotypically more ‘male’ traits, such as aggression and ruthlessness, are indeed required, I think it gives the wrong message to young women today as to how they should be in business to succeed.

What people are saying about Debra:

Paula (Fired in Episode 4): “”The thing with Debs is which is why I do respect her and I do kind of like her is she absolutely doesn’t give a t**s”.
(Hmm I’m don’t usually find that an endearing or likeable trait!)

The Guardian: Debra would be the offspring of series two finalists Michelle Dewberry and Ruth Badger, should their genes ever be spliced

Even more than usual this week, Aidy Chiles’ follow-up - The Apprentice - You’re fired – was far better than the programme itself. The likeable, articulate, quietly amusing Paula came out with one of the best comments of the show so far – asked if the endlessly self-grooming, self-adoring Debra Barr was tall, Paula demurely but devastatingly replied ‘oh yes, she’s about 6 foot….. 7 with her mouth open.’ Just so

Daily Star: Apprentice b*tch Debra Barr is in pieces at being dubbed ‘Jigsaw’ after the demonic doll in horror flick Saw. Show hopefuls reckon her pale, moon-shaped face and chiselled features make her a dead ringer for the film’s monster.

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