I read an article recently in which a collection of female business people had been brought together to talk about the barriers women face to developing their career.
The issues are complex. They cover everything from ‘clubs’ and networks which, without really thinking about it, pick people like themselves, to casual sexism.
They include deeply ingrained cultural expectations we don’t even notice most of the time, and if we do certainly don’t want to rock the boat by talking about them. Every year my daughter would tell me to keep my mouth shut about the subliminal sexism at her primary school sports day!
They include the very strongly held belief that men are good at hard logical things and women are better at softer emotional issues. If they are it’s really down to cultural training. There is plenty of evidence to suggest the differences amongst males and amongst females are far greater than the difference between men and women!
Wouldn’t it have been brilliant if instead of gathering women together to talk about ‘women’s stuff’ this group of female leaders had been asked for their opinions and insights on the future of the Euro, the drop in value of Chinese stocks, the impact of zero hours contracts or creative ways to tackling the skills shortage.
A group of talented women being brought together to debate a hard issue … that would produce some great copy!