Today I read this quote in a piece on mentoring in ForbesWomen and I am sure it is true. Women need to stick together and help each other, because we are facing exciting and sometimes difficult ventures.
In the workplace, women are facing issues that men don’t have to face because business is still a men’s world. The workplace and organisations are created by men and for men; they invented the rules and they know how to play by those rules. Women have only entered the job market in the last 50 years or so, so we are catching up on the game. In our course of history, being a professional and being a women, is something completely new.
For example, something that puzzles a lot of women, is how to dress professionally. Men have their uniform, a suit, and depending on the sector you work in a different tie or a different pair of shoes to go with the uniform. Personalising can be done, but limited to details. But what is the equivalent of professional dressing for women? Some women choose for the ‘female’ version of the suit, a perfect copy of the male professional dressing. And that’s fine if it feels comfortable, but a lot of women feel they have to compromise too much on their femininity.
At the same time, there is only one or maybe two generations of women that have had to take up their role as a women, as a wife and a mother, and combine this with work. And all working mothers know how difficult it can be having to combine those two. Just think of any situation where you had to choose between an important work event and an important school activity.
More and more, the latter is a problem of all parents, including fathers. But the difficulty for women is not only making that choice and to life with it; women are also facing the difficulty of being judged by society and their communities much more then men. Because, while women themselves haven’t figured out completely how to be a female professional or a working mother, the people they live with, haven’t either.
Family, friends, neighbours, everyone is trying to understand what it means for them and for their surroundings. And women are still primary seen and judged for their ‘female’ capacities, including being a good mother. This is how we judge ourselves and how we judge on others. Just admit, what were you thinking when your co-worker announced she was pregnant? Maybe you thought that now she was not going to be the reliable, hardworking colleague anymore, because she would soon be preoccupied with motherhood? It is very well possible you did, everyone does this –and yes it happened to me as well-. But just remember, in history 50 years is only so little time.
So lets be kind to ourselves and the women around us, whether they are our friends, mothers or co-workers, and make a commitment to help other women. I am sure there is a special place in haven for women that help other women. And if it doesn’t exist yet, we should create it!