Why Sometimes It Just Has To Be ‘Women Only’.

Posted on October 14th, 2014 by - 3 comments

Women first women are happy! Lusi. Stk Xc

Regular readers will know I am not anti men. Far from it.

I am, however, pro changing the world so women get equal treatment, and I’m very pro raising awareness of just how unequal that treatment is, even in many enlightened organisations and businesses.

Our workplaces and businesses have been designed by men, for men. Working practices are designed to meet male requirements. One classic example – working practices take little or no account of the need for the human race to procreate. If we had truly gender neutral practices child care would not be the political issue it is. The needs of a society to have healthy, well cared for children would be evident in gender equal practices, and women would not be penalised in their careers for actually having babies. The Scandinavian countries are way ahead of the UK and US on this.

I don’t believe debates of this nature should be seen as women’s issues only. It’s one of the reasons I have changed my mind on women only pressure groups in the workplace. We need the men to understand the issues, and frankly, as that’s where most of the power still resides, we need them to be supportive of change, to help women make change happen. (More on that here: Are Women Only Groups Good For Your Career?)

I make one exception to this rule: in the case of personal development courses in an organisation committed to gender equality, when we’re talking about consciousness raising courses, taking that first step, I firmly believe they need to be for one gender only.

Most of us haven’t got our head around all of the issues, we’re too busy doing the day job. We need space to explore what that means to us. I’ve had experience of doing that in mixed groups and it’s far less productive than single gender groups. In mixed groups, women tend to say less, and men hold the floor. Men can feel embarrassed and defensive when they hear some of the statistics and research on gender inequality. They need time and space to explore their own reactions and thoughts, at least initially.

It’s precisely because I am not anti men that I think having these initial sessions in single gender groups is important, and respectful. Many women will be unaware of the working practices which are very male oriented because it’s all we’ve ever known. Once you give women space to think more deeply about this they become much more sensitised to the issues. As do the men. I know it seems counter intuitive to launch an equality initiative by separating the sexes within an organisation, but it can actually be counter productive to do otherwise.

*I’m grateful to Lusi of StockExchange for use of this image

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Stop Working So Hard. Seriously. Stop It!

Posted on October 9th, 2014 by - 0 comments

If you’re working really hard at your business or career and still end up in the same place it’s time to stop. I’m serious; down tools right now. Stop. Hard work never killed anyone, the saying goes. This may be true but it can go a long way to sapping your energy and enthusiasm. Are you on a daily treadmill of working longer hours yet not moving anywhere? Lots of movement, yet too little meaningful progress? I’m seeing this more

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Are You Passionate?

Posted on October 8th, 2014 by - 0 comments

The question was prompted by a trip to the theatre. Not just any old theatre but watching my son and daughter in law (above),on on the first night of their national tour with Anthony Horowitz’s *Falcon’s Malteser. After the show the cast came onto the stage to take questions from the children present. How, asked one child, do you become an actor? This is what the cast replied: If you really love something just keep trying to do it no

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How To Make a Difference

Posted on October 7th, 2014 by - 1 comment

Sometimes it feels that we’re too small and insignificant in the general scheme of things to really make a difference. It’s understandable but I fear that way madness lies; if we keep quiet that leaves air space for the naysayers to claim the ground. Check out the recent example of Emma Watson, an actor who made her views known on gender equality. She received a torrent of on line abuse. She also received a torrent of on line support to

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The Feminist and the FireFighter.

Posted on October 3rd, 2014 by - 1 comment

  Whenever I am working or an organisation where the issue of gender equality is not recognised, as in  “What problem? We have no problem? Women can progress if they have the required attributes,” I am reminded of a conversation I had with the Chief Officer of my husband’s Fire & Rescue Service in 1986. (That’s my husband in the picture, trying not to laugh). We were at the passing out parade at the end of his training period. At

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Got a Mentor?

Posted on September 30th, 2014 by - 0 comments

When you read the career stories of many famous high profile women a common strand emerges: most of them had a mentor. Have you? The extract below is from an IBM report ‘The Business Case for Gender Balance': Make Mentoring Meaningful Ideally, high-potential women should be offered their own mentor. This mentor should be trained or up-skilled to understand what career support is most effective to help women progress in their careers. Non-specific mentoring involving general career guidance helps create

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