If I have to give a very quick answer to the dreaded “And what do you do, Jane?’ I usually say I develop and deliver courses for women. If the conversation continues (and trust me, that answer can be a conversation killer sometimes!) I’ll say, I help give women the confidence to do what they want to do. The inevitable question follows about why I think women need that. Most of us know lots of very confident women, don’t we?
And yet report after report highlights lack of confidence as a factor in keeping women from power. (That and a myriad of other reasons of course!) It’s not a day to day confidence issue but something deeper and more difficult to pin down. Why do women not apply for promotion until they know their current job inside out, for instance? Why are women still paid less then men for comparable jobs? Why aren’t we demanding equal pay? Why do boys get more talking time in the classroom than girls? Why do both women and men think women talk too much in meetings yet the research shows that men talk the most? Why do men regularly interrupt women who are talking, however much higher in status that women is than them, and not interrupt male colleagues in the same way?
Almost everything I do comes back to that confidence issue, whether it’s writing courses like RenewYou, or coaching one to one, or delivering a change seminar within an organisation. Of course, the way our society has evolved in the West has been controlled and designed by men, inevitably, as they got there first. Women’s contribution in society is rarely highlighted and work mores and practices have evolved to suit men, not women. Tracey Emin, artist, recently said her career would have been very different had she been a man. She would have been as talented, but she would have been received differently and it would have taken a different, easier path.
Because I am so passionate about women feeling able to do just what they want and not be poured into a mould, or to grow up with their aspirations curtailed, I am also a passionate feminist. The way women are portrayed in the media is one of the significant factors in undermining women’s confidence and in giving a biased message to both genders.
It’s a hard nut to crack; men are mainly still in charge and most men and women don’t even see the bias that is shown. Just take a look at all the usual forms of media: your daily newspaper (yes, even the quality ones), the films in your local cinema, your local newsagents magazine rack. Can you look at them and say both genders are equal?
It won’t change unless we challenge it and highlight the issues. Which is why I am a wholehearted supporter of movements like The Women’s Room and No More Page Three and why almost every thing I do is about giving women the confidence to challenge the status quo and live the life they really genuinely choose.
Thinking of expanding your training business? Are you passionate about empowering women? I can help you. To find out how, click here.
I cannot attribute this picture so please let me know if you can.
Posted on May 24th, 2013 by Jane