Last week I did an interview about how women can succeed in a man’s world. We had discussed why women don’t succeed - their reluctance to promote themselves, their belief that if they work hard they will be judged on merit, their perfectionism. They were all qualities which are remarkably familiar. The problem is all these qualities appear to be inbred in girls. How do we stop bringing up girls who don’t push themselves forward? Should work be all about pushing yourself forward? Is it naïve to think you can get on without people being told about your achievements rather than letting your work speak for itself? Do women make better leaders because it is not all about them? I think I have got to the age where I am unlikely to be able to change how I am [mainly because I am too tired and the economic situation is so precarious], yet I admit that I feel frustrated that I have 20 years’ experience in journalism and am not earning enough to be able to work anywhere near part-time, even if I do work flexibly.
Part of the reason for this is, of course, that apparently you have to take a pay cut to work flexibly, even if you end up working more hours than if you were in an office full time. But even before I embarked on this less secure lifestyle, it was clear that women were paid generally at a lesser rate to the men in my office. This was either because they had started on lower rates, for instance, as secretaries, or had not pushed for the kind of pay rises that the men were obviously good at pushing for. It hit home when I told the person who deputised for me during my maternity leave, who was theoretically more junior than me, that he should ask for more pay to take on the extra responsibility, only to find out he was actually paid more than me anyway. An equal pay audit, if it actually gets introduced, will, I am sure, show just how unjust the situation is in many offices and hopefully galvanise women to direct action. Maybe we should have a day when we all just refuse to get up and see if we are missed.
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