Historically I have struggled with the word feminism. Studying electronic engineering with a large majority of male students I always felt that somehow the women’s organisations around the university weren’t so much helping but rather highlighting the idea that perhaps I shouldn’t be there. Also, they always seemed to gather around courses that were predominantly attended by women and I was left sceptical that they truly understood what impact gender had on my day to day. There was that one lecturer who, during a talk on friction: “friction is the force generated when 2 bodies rub against each other…why are you all looking at Ivanka?”. I will always be grateful to my class mates for not laughing at what this man obviously thought was wit.
At the same time, on the same course, there was the mathematics lecturer who stopped a lecture to tell ‘the boys’ they should be ashamed of themselves for letting me answer all the questions. (This I liked, obviously!) He quickly scuttled over to apologise “I hope I didn’t offend, please don’t report me to the equal opportunities board, I’ve already been there once this month!” Both these men were of a particular generation and good educators and I decided that causing a ‘fuss’ would do neither me nor them any good at all. I just got on with being a student.
Fast forward 12 years. I was discussing Fawcett with a woman I would consider to be a mentor. She is older and more experienced and I have a huge amount of respect for her. We were discussing gender differences and women in work:
Me: “A friend introduced me to Fawcett; it’s a feminist charity…not sure… I’ve always classed myself as something of an anti-feminist.”
My friend: “You are just being sucked in by the shallow media on feminism.”
Me (blushing): “Hmm…”
So I have done some reading and checked out their research. To highlight only one report seems a little remiss of me but this blog post is long enough as it is:
“Just like men, women hold widely differing views which are greatly affected by their age and class.” I love the way this finding ties back into my day job of persuading my clients that thinking about ‘the customer’ as a lump is perhaps not the best way to approach things.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to check out The Fawcett Society, I encourage you to read what they have to say and I hope you decide to sign up.