I was reading an article recently about glass ceilings and the feminist movement. Whilst I know many women out there are not treated the same as men, I do believe that women have achieved a huge amount. And I question therefore whether we still need a feminist movement?
Certainly in the developed world I don't believe we do. It's a different matter in other countries where culture or religion means women can have literally no status at all. Don't get me started on that.
If you take a look around you, I would say women are smashing it - glass ceiling and all. Theresa May, Hilary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nicola Sturgeon. These are world leaders, or acting world leaders or soon to be world leaders (health permitting). You don't have to like everything they stand for, but you have to admire what they have achieved, and in what is perceived to be a man's world.
I know that we still have a little way to go before we have equality in the board rooms, but women like Sheryl Sandberg, Irene Rosenfeld, Ginni Rometty are forging a path where others can follow. When I read that I realise they are all from the US, but here in the UK we have Carolyn McCall, Alison Cooper, Veronique Laury and of course the latest appointment of Emma Walmsley at GlaxoSmithKline.
So do we need to bang the drum of feminism, or can we just admire the fact that there are women out there who are high achievers without having to debate the politics of it all?
From the articles online and in the papers, it appears that the feminist debate is, however, still raging.
Gender pay gap
One of the biggest issues is about the gender pay gap, and how women are treated differently when they return to work after having a family. In particular you read about women who come back to work part time, and juggle childcare, who find that their career prospects have changed.
I'm one of those people. I work part time and juggle that work with caring for my kids. But I do believe that because I have chosen to have my cake and eat it, I can't ask to be treated the same as my colleagues. I want to spend time with my children, and therefore I accept that in terms of career path, salary etc, I cannot expect to be treated the same as someone else in my position who hasn't had children, or who is male and isn't rushing home to do school pick up, washing and homework.
Career women vs working mum
I know plenty of career women who have gone back to work full time because they want to, and are driven to become the best at what they do and are comfortable not seeing their children as much. That is their choice and good luck to them. They definitely should be treated the same as any man in their position.
Then you have some women who have to go back to work just to pay the bills. Again, they should not be treated differently to any man in that position.
So if you have decided to do both - part time work and be around for your children, can we whinge when we are treated differently? Probably not.
But I also think our male colleagues at work need to understand that we women can juggle our work and children, and do it pretty well. This may be a sexist thing to say, but I'm not sure my husband could juggle those 2 roles as successfully. If you men out there are married to women with careers and children, then look kindly upon your female colleagues that are doing the same. And don't judge them or think that they are shirking work. Believe me, we are not.
In my house I am sad to report that feminism is a dirty word, as was evidenced by a recent conversation with my youngest...
"Has the film Wonder Woman come out yet?"
"I don't think so darling."
"You know that is a propaganda film made by feminists."
"I'm pretty sure it isn't."
"The clue is in the title, Mum. Anyway I won't be watching it when it does come out. I read that feminists say women are better than men. They're just wrong."
I'm sure Germaine Greer would have something to say to my son about that.
Amanda Coxen, Working Mum and Tinies Director