As a business woman who works in a number of b2b sectors, I accept that you have to roll with the punches and learn to think twice as quickly on your feet. Women in similar situations will fully grasp where I am coming from as we still have to fight so hard to be recognised purely and simply for our abilities in areas that are male dominated. Even some women have the attitude that there are some things that only men are capable of doing and women should leave well alone. Is thinking one of them?
Where am I heading with this? well a few places really though whether in the grand scheme of things anything will change, I doubt it!
Recently on a flight home, the voice of the captain confirmed expected flight path, the weather conditions, expected time of arrival, other usual flight information and wished us a pleasant flight. Nothing unusual in that until this rather nervous elderly lady sitting next to me sighed wearily and said, "I do wish these emancipated women would leave these types of jobs to the men they were meant for".
I looked back at her and smiled, "Are you nervous?" I asked. She replied only of the fact that a woman was flying the plane.
"Don't worry, I said, "If anything happens to her or the co-pilot, I can bring it in, but the landing may be a little bumpy"
She initially looked affronted, then laughed nervously and we enjoyed a very pleasurable flight. COMPARED TO the flight I had back from a holiday with my children which was handled by the co-pilot! Turbulence I recognise as I do loss of control! It may have only been for about 10 seconds but during the descent the co-pilot lost control of the silver bird. Some short hops I appreciate are air mile building sessions - this was one of them....and I didn't appreciate being part of the livestock on a training session. Queue for the on-board loo whilst waiting for the connector was quite long - the first one in had been the male co-pilot! Need I say more?
Now don't get me wrong there are some jobs that due to their physical nature are just better suited for a male role. Firefighting would be one of them - not because women are incapable, but because it is so physically demanding and they are responsible for each other inside a 'job'. Going in in pairs they have to be able to pull the other one out 'deadweight' if necessary. There are few women I know who even with training would be able to pull a 17 stone man 'deadweight' from a burning building etc....however that's another story and I digress.
Recently I was at a major corporate event within a technical industry. I was one of three women in attendance - of course initially it was convivial. However, you could feel there was a hesitancy in the room, a questioning for those that did not know any of us as to why and how we could breach a male domain. As the evening flowed so did the alcohol and for some it was evident that they were not used to handling it. Handling what you may ask? Women on their territory. They became base, rude, crude and vulgar. Chilling to think some of these men were in extremely influential positions both corporately and politically. Even more bizarrely I was stunned at how threatened they felt by two female managing directors and one financial director. My one colleague is the joint chair of a large holding company that actually is a major customer to some that were in that room. Yes, start sweating boys, for boys you are. Suffice it to say, sharp verbal slaps soon re-established us - probably as frigid bitches but we left with our respect in tact. I am afraid to say they didn't.
Ridiculous I know, that I should feel so spurred by this particular event when there are many places on this planet where women can't even walk out of the door without being covered from head to foot in one form of shroud or another. There are women who are beaten into submission and raped in their own home, there are women born to servitude, prostitution the list is endless. However, in a world that likes to call itself civilised - those 'gentlemen' and others who continue to perpetuate the myth that females are the 'inferior' sex merely clarify that as a species we have barely left the cave. Totally crazy and how terribly sad.