So, International Women’s Day is nearly here and what changes have we seen?
First celebrated in 1910 and quickly used to support women’s claim to the vote perhaps it was felt unnecessary once women achieved that as it virtually disappeared until the rise of feminism in the 1980’s.
Yes, we have the vote, legally can be educated as much as men, we’re not barred from any professions (though some military jobs) and the first British female boxer took part in the Olympics just last year.
But what has changed and what will we change?
There’s now a recognition that companies with women on their board of directors are more successful, but what of other jobs?
Looking at plumbing; Hattie, the founder of Stopcocks started Stopcocks Women Plumbers in 2011 because it was obvious from the number of emails she received from girls and women, that nothing had really changed in the industry since she’d qualified over 20 years previously.
As a result of what Hattie has achieved virtually single-handedly (since she vowed to create an ‘army of women plumbers back in 2006’) there is now a community of women plumbers and a place women can get support, train and complete their on-site learning to qualify fully as a plumber and more importantly a growing awareness among customers that female plumbers exist.
Still however, in radio and other media interviews the questions are all too frequently of the ‘isn’t it a bit dirty for a woman?’ ilk with interviewers apparently unaware of how smelly nappies are or the weight of toddlers after they’ve been on your hip for more than five minutes.
Today we were interviewed alongside an even rarer female butcher, there are plenty of jobs women and girls simply don’t do. Why is this?
One of the reasons we’ve been asked to take a group of plumbers to work on a rainwater harvesting system in Kenya later this year is so that the girls there see women doing this kind of work; women plumbers are great role models of strong women. Perhaps more surprisingly than being asked to be in that in Kenya, a radical housing co-op in Liverpool prefer to use Stopcocks Women Plumbers so that girls get to see women taking on this skilled work.
We may not want to do everything, but why shouldn’t we?
How long are women in ‘male’ jobs going to be seen as unusual as dogs walking on their hind legs? Male chefs are considerably more common than female, but women still undertake the majority of ‘home cooking’.
Come on careers advisors, get with the programme!
What change do we want as women and what will we do to bring it closer?