Tuesday 8th March 2022
This year International Women’s Day is encouraging us to imagine a gender equal world, a world free from bias…can you do it?
I have to be honest I find it difficult. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible.
And that’s what I keep reminding myself. We are all working towards something, just as our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers before us were.
We are part of the change and that is so important.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t experience some kind of systemic sexism. It is particularly rife at the moment as I am currently pregnant with my second child…
‘How much time are you taking off?’
‘What are your plans?’
‘How will you cope?’
These questions are often well intentioned, but it is noticeable that my husband, who also runs his own business, hasn’t had any comments or questions excluding ‘congratulations!’.
The underlying assumption (conscious or not) is that my life as a woman, my dreams and my ambitions, will be put on hold when the new baby arrives, my husband’s life on the other hand will hardly be affected.
Now, we all know that this isn’t the case, there is going to be huge change for both of us and adjustments will be made, however my issue lies with the way society views women once they become mothers.
It was the same in my first pregnancy, which was when I first set up my business. ‘Don’t do it’ they said, ‘it will be too hard!’ and even ‘you’ll be a bad mother for trying’.
I heard these comments and I felt angry, and I know lots of you feel angry at the way female business owners are treated – whether they’re pregnant or not. That anger spurred me on to be part of the conversation and that’s why I wrote my book The Expecting Entrepreneur: Growing Your Business While Growing Your baby. Not to change the world, but to be part of the conversation that challenges and ultimately breaks the bias…which WILL change the world!
I believe that female empowerment starts with the individual.
Yes, society holds limiting beliefs about what it means to be a woman, where her place is and how she should think, feel and act, but it is the woman’s personally held beliefs that will bring about the change. And that’s even if she doesn’t agree with how things currently stand. It really upsets me when I hear women say ‘but that’s just how it is’ or ‘I don’t think things will ever be equal’…I get it, we’re not there yet and there is still a long way to go; looking at the facts and figures (e.g. the gender pay gap) is at best disheartening but that doesn’t mean things are not changing! IWD21: Breaking The Norms, One Limiting Belief at A Time was actually the first blog I ever published so it feels fitting a year on to reference back to it.
In my work I always encourage clients to start by acknowledging where they currently are, how far they’ve come and then start looking to the future to all they are going to achieve. This allows for any negative emotions (e.g. anger) to drive forward with positivity.
Last year I committed to Choosing To Challenge (the theme of IWD21) and I certainly have done.
And I accept it’s not always easy. But I promise you, when you do choose to challenge you are breaking the bias and you are part of the change.
I’m not suggesting you get into heated arguments with strangers online, in fact, these will rarely help you or them see differently. But if you are in a situation where you notice systemic sexism or misogyny then you have the right to politely challenge and question it:
- Please can you explain what you mean by that comment?
- Would you be open to hearing why that comment is unacceptable/ inappropriate?
- I’d like to ask why you feel comments like the one you just made are appropriate?
Most people don’t actually want to offend. Most people, if they don’t feel heavily attacked, are open to feedback.
You have the power to bring about change in this world and #BreakTheBias
I’d love to hear your stories: your experiences of systemic sexism and misogyny and how you did or didn’t challenge it. Get in touch via email: email@example.com