Lots of people think that Elizabeth Warren's gender played a part in her dropping out of the Democratic race. "Gender in this race?" she said last week. "You know that is the trap question for every woman. If you say, 'Yeah. There was sexism in this race,' everyone says, 'Whiner!'"
Last week was a very female week with International Women's Day. But it was a bad week for women too. Or make that a bad year. Or a bad decade. Take your pick.
Kate Middleton came and we all wondered where she had bought her clothes. Not a single man wondered if he should go out and buy one of William's shirts. We listened to advice about Covid-19 from manels and more manels. 'The Late Late' managed to unearth a woman in public health but she only really talked about washing hands. And if you were about to accuse me of whining, a new study proves beyond doubt that gender bias is keeping women down.
I tend to feel mostly hopeful about gender equality, but a quick glance at the statistics published for International Women's Day was enough to take the wind out of my feminist sails. Just when we had the male species on the verge of submission, we decide to take our feet off their throats and along comes a UN study telling us that nearly 90pc of the world's population holds some prejudice against women. Despite steps towards closing the equality gap, 91pc of men and 86pc of women hold at least one bias against women when it comes to politics, economics, education and violence. It was the very first gender social norm index conducted by the UNDP, analysing data from 75 countries that make up more than 80pc of the planet's population.
Some 50pc think men make better politicians and more than 40pc believe that men are better business leaders than women. A third of men and women think it's OK for a man to beat his wife. There are no countries in the world with gender equality, it concluded, and we will not see gender equality in the next 10 years. Even in the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden - some of the most progressive societies in our world - only half of the population were totally free from gender prejudice.
Look around you and you'll see it even though gender discrimination doesn't always operate as blatant prejudice: men and women both internalise hostile sexism, which is self-explanatory - the belief that women are inferior to men in all the usual silly ways.
Every day we hear news stories that suggest things are improving for women here. There are more of us in Leinster House, we have more choices to make and we call out sexism in our everyday lives far more than we used to. In a world that is still patriarchal, we've got much better at protesting the systems that hold us back - but that doesn't change the fact they're still there. Here in Ireland, the patriarchy is hidden, socialised into our behaviour and all too often outwardly rejected by men and women alike.
The symptoms are there: the objectification of women, unrealistic beauty standards and a lack of respect that amounts to a gender pay gap and snatched career opportunities. Huge inequalities still exist in all kinds of areas, whether it's in the workplace, education, political engagement, health or income. In reality, we're crawling forward. And all the while the vast majority of us think that men are better. It's beyond depressing.
Meanwhile men are moving ahead with the privilege of never having to consider how their gender might negatively affect their career. They don't have to think about what will happen to their careers when they become dads. They don't experience the isolation of being the only one at a meeting. They have endless role models. They can see it and be it all.
Another study last year found female professionals in Ireland are more than three times as likely to feel their chances of selection for a job have been lowered because of their gender than men (46pc versus 14pc). The Hays Ireland Diversity & Inclusion Report surveyed more than 770 employers and employees, which also detailed just under eight in 10 Irish professionals believe hiring managers would benefit from 'unconscious bias' training.
UN spokespeople have suggested their latest report might demonstrate a backlash against women's rights and called for local improvements in policy and legislation in order to improve gender equality. I say let's strike. On October 24, 1975, 90pc of Iceland's women refused to work, cook or look after children to demonstrate the importance of their work, waged and unwaged, in the countryside and the city. Almost all women who were physically able came out of their homes, offices and factories. Women gathered in the streets. Men suddenly had to take care of their own children. Easy-to-cook sausages sold out at shops and workplaces were overrun by kids. Things went back to normal the next day, but with the knowledge women are crucial to society. 2020 needs a strike.
We might be benefiting to some extent from what former generations fought for, but there is still a fight to be had. Do Irish women have it in us?