I have never felt any pressure to adhere to female stereotypes or that any opportunity were out of reach due to my gender. I went to a mixed sex school, built male and female relationships, played male and female sports and although I entered into a noticeably male-dominated world of business, I have never felt anything but welcome.
As a female Director and owner of a successful creative business, I was amazed to learn recently that despite 63% of design students being women, women only hold 17% of creative leadership roles across the industry. This along with 94% of board members of FTSE 250 businesses being male, these are surprising statistics in today’s seemingly equal opportunities world.
We are more and more aware of the gender pay gap and women being mistreated in society, but what is it that creates such misalignment between what we hear about our future and what we do here and now?
Personally, I believe that women are busy trying to do what we do best, juggling our natural talents and chosen career paths with the roles we play in wider society as partners, mothers, sisters and daughters. I believe that women understand the term “to compromise” better than anyone. And that’s not to say it’s right to do so, but so often we see women, highly intellectual women, who have so much creative insight to give, having to compromise their position and success in a business to fulfil other roles.
The reason for these compromises may be different for all of us, we all have our own stresses and strains in life, but if there is one thing we can all do, it is to try and change the conversations we are having. I don’t believe we need to talk about men and women, male and female, what we do and don’t have and what we can and can’t do. Instead I believe we should be developing ways to better understand each other, to build better relationships and create better ways of working to accommodate all of our needs. There are, of course, biological differences between us, but these should only ever be seen as strengths and if we work together, what we can do is nothing short of miraculous.
Madeleine Albright says there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other but I believe this to be true for all of humanity. It may just be up to us women to show everyone how it’s done.