I’ve been trying to write a blog about why it is important to have dedicated spaces for women in business, but to be honest it’s been hard as when it comes to equality, feminism and all things women in business there’s a LOT to talk about and it’s been difficult to know where to start.
One of the reasons for writing this blog was to explain why I arranged Female Founders Rise. I umm’d and ahh’d a bit about organising the event for International Women’s Day. I didn’t want to alienate anyone or give an impression that The Buzz Hub Co was for women only or segregate our members. That statement in itself probably answers the question of why it’s important to have space for women in business. I mean would a man worry or think about these things?
So rather than answering that question direct, I thought I’d share a bit more about why I proudly call myself a feminist and why you should to.
It wasn’t always this way…
Growing up I wasn’t interested in politics and certainly would never have described myself as a feminist (much to my family’s dismay). I was happy going along with how things were and, coming from a relative place of privilege, was probably living quite selfishly knowing that I was alright.
It’s important to say here I come from a family of feminists; my parents never let the fact that I was female hold me back from anything. My dad never spoke on behalf of my mum (would’ve been fun to see him try) and she didn’t need his permission for anything. I guess this is part of my privilege, my parents were already fighting against some of the issues so I didn’t even recognise that they were issues.
I’ve known it for a long time…
My first career was in HR and when I was doing training one thing that always stuck with me was that typically men will apply for jobs because they think they can probably do it, women apply for job when they know that they can do it. This may be one of the (many) reasons why on average men earn £1.44 per hour more than women.
Working as a young woman in a heavily male dominated workforce taught me a lot and I am grateful to the men that treated me as their equal and respected my voice at the table alongside them. I am also grateful to the men who didn’t; who apologised to me for swearing in front of me or who called me “dear” – these men helped fuel the fire for me to champion equality.
Being a parent changed things…
Having my daughter I think is when my passion around equality and feminist issues really ignited. Thinking that my daughter may be held back from something she loves, or not encouraged to pursue an interest because it isn’t ‘girly’ makes me angry. This anger continues when you look at the messaging and products marketed for girls vs boys – now I have one of each I often make direct comparisons.
The stereotyping of our children starts before birth and the language that is used is actually quite damaging to both sexes – girls are sweet & kind, boys are strong & muddy.
Seeing these inequalities, listening to how people talk about my son & daughter, hearing how other parents speak has all fuelled me to ensure that my children can grow up to be whatever they want.
But it isn’t just about the kids
As I became more aware of these issues around my children I have also become aware of them in the business world. There are everyday minor discriminations happening all the time; things that affect how women are perceived, how they feel about their business and how much they can succeed.
When I first started in my small business I went along with the ‘girl boss’ and ‘mumpreneur’ messaging, but for me now I find this damaging. I’m not a girl and my business isn’t about me being a mum, I am a woman, a very capable woman who can create a business whilst also being a mum. Also how many ‘boy bosses’ do you meet or ‘dadpreneurs’.
As I mentioned earlier there are a whole host of reasons that contribute to the gender pay gap. Until fairly recently (in historical terms) it was the man’s job to earn the money and the woman’s to look after the home; this is a core foundation of how our society was created and what it was designed for. It also means that society is designed for men to be wealthy and women to be dependent.
“90% of the world’s millionaires are men, meaning only 10% are women.” Source: GlobalData Wealth Insight
So what should we be doing?
For me the first step is recognising the issues and calling them out. There’s a lot of sh*t that is just our everyday and no one sees any problem with. A good question to ask yourself is ‘would you say it about a man?’ An account I LOVE is The Man Who Has It All – a satirical account that through simple posts really shows up this issue.
We also need to call it out when we see it – a lot easier said than done I know but even if you can make one person think a little (hopefully like I have done with this blog) then it’s a start.
You can also keep learning. As you can probably tell by this blog I’ve got a lot more learning to do on this topic, but every time I read a blog, book, listen to an interview etc, it makes me a little more angry and a little more determined to not let my gender hold me back and to make sure that I create a more equitable future for my children.
Finally let’s support each other! There’s definitely something (like I said I need to do more learning) about how the media sets up women against each other, there’s a tendency to judge, to criticise and find fault. Rather than shooting down other’s progress let’s celebrate and support it!
If you’d like to join our International Women’s Day event Female Founders Rise book your ticket here.