I spent the ’90s in my 20’s and was fed the “you can have it all” message on a steady stream from womens magazines. From Cleo to Marie Claire the message was the same, the modern woman is a superwoman; kids, career, a home lifted from the pages of Home Beautiful. It was all there for the taking and there was an expectation you would.
Never a shrinking violet or raised to be subservient I embraced the message with gusto, I had my boys at 20 & 22, built our first family home at 21 and was promoted to my first senior position at 23. As far as the rhetoric was concerned I had it all.
Around the turn of the millennium I started to revolt on the message, much preferring the “you can have it all but not at the same time” message. Instead of killing myself to be the perfect wife, mother, homemaker I started spreading the load, my husband left his job with a local contractor that saw him work 15 hour days, sometimes for 40 days straight, for a position working an even time roster so he could spend more time with our children. Now upper primary school aged, our boys were taught how to use the washing machine & basic cooking skills. Everyone started to ensure our home life was more equal, and that’s what International Women’s Day (& feminism) is about – Equality.
International Women’s Day is a time for everyone, regardless of gender, to celebrate the progress women have made towards equality and to remember how much further there is to go. Male support, especially when men are prepared to use their privilege to support gender equality, is a welcome amplification of women’s voices. And remember, feminism isn’t just about improving the lives of women, it’s about dismantling ALL damaging gender stereotypes and roles. Achieving gender equality should be as important for men as it is for women. Greater work / life balance is about creating policies that benefit everyone, not just women.
Removing gender stereotypes at work is equally about negative stereotypes of males in predominately female industries such as nursing, hairdressing, care giving and childcare as it is vice versa with females in male dominated industries such as mining, science & technology and mechanical trades.
Equality is an issue for everyone. It’s a societal issue built around how workplaces and job roles are structured; the gender stereotypes our children are fed via our beliefs, the toys and games they play and media imagery they are presented with. The shift starts with you.
So grab a cuppa (or wine) & settle in to read what a bunch of amazing women have to say about IWD.
Footnote – my intent with this post was to have equal amounts of males & females from a variety of age groups sharing their thoughts or experiences as they relate to International Women’s Day. Well, you may have noticed a distinct lack of males in the 30+ age group, and it’s not from lack of trying. When I put the call out to half a dozen or so males it was done thinking that these males, whom I’d so respected within the business world, shared a desire for equality, they were all in senior roles, they all had females in their teams, never once in my interaction with them was I given pause to believe they held slightly sexist views. And here-in lies the problem, you probably got to the stat about the gender pay gap remaining virtually unchanged for the past 20 years and thought, WHAT THE HECK! WHY? HOW? Well when the change needs to be made at the top first and fed down as a cultural shift from our business leaders, and business is predominately led by males aged 30 + age group , and then you consider that 100% of my admittedly small sample size of the population declined to write something, then you start to see why.
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