Wednesday, August 05, 2009

We Must Encourage Girls to Stretch

Recently there has been a lot of conversation about the place of women in business and about unequal pay. Now I know there is discrimination from men but what I want to discuss here is how we prepare girls for life.

From my observation we aren’t equipping girls to adopt the traits and interests to be successful – not according to men’s standards, but according to successful standards.

I’ve noticed the behaviour of many of my female colleagues at work and it’s not good. There are hour-long conversations about mascara – vacillation when making decisions, an unwillingness to speak up or take charge and a seeming willingness to sigh, say ‘ah men’ and then smilingly do some clerical task for some man who claims he can’t do it (usually binding something or printing a document).

We need to develop interests in the subjects that are useful – mascara doesn’t warrant a conversation much less an hour-long one. There are plenty of relevant things to discuss at work. When projects come up we should take charge or volunteer for leadership roles. We should chase them and support each other so that leadership can be done on our terms. Trust me, from what I’ve seen women at work are more than capable of managing things – they just don’t step up for it. And when your male colleagues comes over to ask you to bind a document for him because he doesn’t know how to do it (cue sickening grin) and you are much more smarter than him, please pretty please, tell him to bugger off.

We must also demand much much better of our husbands. Disabuse yourself of the notion that they are ‘helping’ with the house or kids. ‘Helping’ infers that it is our task and they are giving a hand. No, they must do their part. Also, stop being so damn picky about things. If hubby is to do something and he employs the age old masculine ploy of doing it badly so that the wife will do it from now on – let him do it badly and then LEAVE THE MESS ALONE!!! Eventually he will get the message that you will not take on his responsibilities and if he takes too long to realise it – call him on it and shame him. If he’s a decent man he will see the sense in what you say.

Let’s encourage our daughters to go for the top – inculcate in them a strong belief in their abilities and give them courageous spirits. And remember, only discuss mascara at length if you are the CEO of a cosmetic company and you are discussing a fantastic strategy to shift the stuff.

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