LETTER TO EDITOR: About the f***** word


I note in recent newsletters you refer to RSPB’s Anne McCall as a ‘feisty female chief’. 

It’s unlikely that if you were referring to a male chief executive you would feel the need to explicitly state his gender. 

I also guess that you don’t often generally provide adjectives for male leader’s personality. Would you call Keith Anderson a macho male MD?   

The Collins Dictionary definition for feisty is as follows:

If you describe someone as feisty, you mean that they are toughindependent, and spirited, often when you would not expect them to be, for example because they are old or ill. 

  1. livelyresilient, and self-reliant
  2. frisky
  3. irritable

I don’t believe feisty is given or received as a compliment in most applications.  It’s mostly used to refer women, a tired stereotype of the personality of how a woman has to behave to be in charge.   

There aren’t many female leaders in the energy industry, or sadly in many other industries.  The language we use to describe women in the workplace shapes the perceptions of those we describe. 

Please do carry on reporting on the achievements and influence of our women leaders.  But don’t single us out as oddities tied to gender stereotypes.  


Clare Lavelle

Associate Director (Energy Consultancy Leader – Scotland and North East)



EH30 9SE



The ‘RSPB v Trump’ dispute over the Aberdeen Bay wind farm can also be characterised as a ‘David v Goliath’ situation given the power imbalances between the two parties. We are sure most readers will have read this article in the correct, non-sexist, context.

24 Aug 2017

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