There is still more than a week to go before International Women’s Day and already I am gripped by a familiar sense of exhaustion. Each day brings another e-mail or notice urging me to celebrate an inspiring, unstoppable or generally spectacular woman. In London alone, I have been alerted to an Everest-conquering physicist, a visionary doctor entrepreneur and a quadrilingual vegan who floated a business in her 20s and works in refugee camps in her spare time. There is no doubting the prowess of these women. Nor is there any question that the drive for female equality remains a dismally slow work in progress. It was breathtaking to read a BBC analysis of a new crop of UK gender pay gap figures last week that showed four out of 10 private companies reporting a wider gap than they had in 2018. Those figures are a jolting reminder that celebrating extraordinary women is no guarantee that the legions of less-than-stellar females are headed for relentless advancement. In fact, the numbers...

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