It may be International Women’s Day, but I try my best to champion women on my blog throughout the year, not just on one single day. I’ve written posts about my five inspirations, women who challenge the norm and women in PR that have reached the top.
For this International Women’s Day, I’m not going to single out five female PR blogs that I follow because there are way more than five and I couldn’t pick my favourites. I’m not going to talk about five women that inspire me because I’ve written something similar before and plus, there are now so many women that inspire me in so many different ways. Instead, I want to highlight five fears that I have as a career-focused woman.
As my degree suggests (Business and PR), I am pursuing a career in business. When I think of business people, I think of men in suits in London or New York, carrying briefcases and ‘working for the man’ – and also being very rich. Over the years, I have come to notice a lot of things about women in business, and not good things. I’ve noticed some patterns which kind of puts me off the industry. However, I want to know about women that don’t follow these patterns and that can show me the opposite.
In this International Women’s Day post, I want to highlight the patterns that I’ve noticed and my thoughts on them. As women in business, or career-focused women, I want these patterns to become rare and create a wave of change that women can get to the top without falling into the below categories. These are my five fears about being a woman in business.
I’ll be single forever or divorced
A lot of women leaders at the top of their game (from my experience) have either been single or divorced. Either the men in their life can’t accept the fact that their other half earns more, holds a higher position or is of more importance than themselves or their other half simply has no time to juggle a relationship and working life.
Of course I’m not going to name any names here, but it’s just something that I happened to notice when it came to women CEOs, leaders and in higher positions. However, should we be defined by our relationship statuses? Absolutely not. But for myself, I hope to have the entire package; the amazing job, husband and family. As women, do we have to sacrifice the husband for our career?
At the moment, I’m 21 and happily single. I’m still very young and have no plans to get into a relationship in the near future as I know in six months I’m hoping to be in another country and maybe a year later, I could move to another. I want to enjoy these next few years of just graduating, exploring the world and finding what I want to do and where I want to be for the rest of my life. I’m not planning on having someone tying me to a place or keeping me from going after what I want to do.
I always say that what’s for you, won’t pass you and that everything happens for a reason – so who knows what is to come in the next month never mind next year? Also, that fortune teller I met in first year told me I would meet my husband when I’m 26 so here’s to the next five years of being single.
I won’t have time for kids
A lot of CEOs, Managing Directors and women in high profile positions that I have come across, don’t have children – whether this is through choice or not, I do not know, it is merely observation. A lot of the women that I have had the experience of working under were also in similar positions. For those that do have children, it seems like their children came first and their career then followed.
As a woman, I feel like there is no ‘perfect time’ to take nine months off for maternity leave, or to have a child without sacrificing progress in the business world. Men don’t have this hardship and so, rise to the top a lot quicker and are given better positions because their leaders know that they will not need time off or surprise them with ‘I’m pregnant!’
This topic surrounding women in high positions along with their marital status and children has interested me for quite a while and I really want to find out the facts and figures behind it in comparison to males in high positions. As PR is a female dominated industry, it would be interesting to see whether those who owned their own agencies, are MDs or CEOs have either of these things compared to women in other industries and with different jobs.
As women, we shouldn’t have to give up the possibility of having children for fear of not progressing in our careers.
I won’t be taken seriously
In a boardroom, you will find mostly men. The woman in the room is usually there to take the minutes or provide teas and coffees. Men prefer to carry out business meetings during a round of golf or over a whiskey or ten. We’re seen as flight-risks as we can be too emotional, too rash and too hormonal. And if I’m not in heels – will you take me seriously?
What happens if I go to work for a sports company, or a brand of beer or for a male grooming product? In a room full of men, are they going to agree with my ideas and suggestions? ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about,’ is what I would expect. However, when it comes to female beauty products, a clothing line or even feminine products, you’ll usually find that the men are the ones making all of the decisions. Just think of Sir Phillip Green (Topshop), Eugène Rimmel (Rimmel London) and Dr. Earle Haas, who patented the first tampon.
It’s a man’s world.
I won’t be paid fairly
Ah, the gender wage gap. Something that still likes to be kept hush-hush and under the carpet. A lot of companies have had their faces reddened in the past while with publishings of their wages for men and women (ahem, BBC). Obviously we have come a very long way since the 1900s, but the publication of BBC wages showed that we haven’t quite peaked.
For the same job, I would like to be paid the same wage. For the same status, the same amount of responsibility, the same job title, I would expect to be paid the same wage as my male counterpart. Why should someone be paid more just because they’re a man? Why are they worth more?
Know your worth and always make sure you are paid the amount that you are worth (and that your male counterpart is paid).
I will experience some form of harassment
Unfortunately for a lot of women, we can’t walk around at night in the dark without feeling unsafe. We can’t wear skirts too short or show too much skin without ‘asking for it’. When it comes to the office, sometimes women are hired based on their looks and not their expertise.
In the UK alone, 52% of women surveyed experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. More than half.
“The study, carried out by the Everyday Sexism Project and the Trades Union Congress (TUC), surveyed over 1,500 women and discovered that 52% have been victims of unwanted sexual behaviours at work, from groping to inappropriate jokes. For women aged 16-24 this percentage rose to 63%, with almost 20% of women reporting that the person harassing them was their manager or someone in a position of authority.”
Since the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, sexual harassment has become a more widely discussed topic and something we are no longer going to stand for. Famous women have made it known in the past that they have used such ways to get ahead in their career – Kim Kardashian, Lana Del Rey, Gwyneth Paltrow and even Eva Peron.
I hope in my future career that I do not experience something of the above and am not hired because of my gender, my clothes, my face but on my abilities and my being a perfect fit for the company.
So, happy International Women’s Day to all females out there. You inspire me and motivate me every single day to be a better person and hopefully I inspire a few of you dear readers too. We have a long way to go in this mad world of business and I hope that these fears I have don’t come true. Here’s to pay equality, no sexual harassment in the workplace (or anywhere else), happy work and life balance and to be taken as seriously as the smartest person in the room (that’s already you FYI).
Happy International Women’s Day all day, every day x