To celebrate International Women’s Day I thought I would ask some of the women who work here about how they see changing attitudes towards their sex. After all International Women’s Day is about every woman. Here at Stephen Einhorn we have a really lovely bunch of very individual, very independent and skilled women. I asked them a series of questions, and have tried to amalgamate their answers into one.
All the women I asked are under the age 35. The only reason for mentioning this is that their experience is very different for their generation than the generation that has gone before, and generations before that, therefore they have a different and interesting perspective.
Do you think things are generally better for women in 2018 than they have been before?
If you are talking about life for women worldwide then probably not. However here we feel that things are getting better. There is more conversation. Women are being listened to more, it’s easier to speak up now. It always has to be a bit extreme in order for things to become normalised. However the fact remains that most laws are made by men. Most women are recruited by men particularly for major roles in public companies. Women need help to be enabled to achieve their goals by being supported by Government policy. This definitely includes policy on childcare. Women still loose out with major roles if they are of childbearing age.
Has anything changed specifically in your lifetime for women?
Women are becoming more empowered. There are more women starting companies, more female firefighters, taxi drivers etc. As far as we know there are no female building companies but that is something we would like to see. 20 years ago women were not allowed to be in a jewellery workshop, now female jewellers are very common (we have four!). It used to be that women were only allowed to do bookkeeping or selling for a jewellery company. We think it’s because men were very protectionist and would only employ men, and of course women can’t be trusted with sharp pointy things!
Do you think that male attitudes have changed towards women?
Not really or rather only slightly. If you look at society’s general attitude to women via advertising campaigns or magazines… women are either housewives, sex objects or rabid mental feminists covered in body hair. There is still very little middle ground. However on a personal scale sexism is easier to challenge day to day. It’s easier to pull up a friend who is being mindlessly sexist now than it used to be. It’s easier to chip away at it when you come across something that personally affects you. It’s easier to have a personal relationship now that is more equal.
Yes we think men understand women a bit more. There is a larger shift in roles, this is only for some people but everyone is more aware of a change. Builders don’t shout out in the street so much anymore.
Do you know anything about the history of womens rights?
No. There was hardly anything taught at school. Absolutely no knowledge of how long it took women to get birth control universally, history of Suffragettes etc or the fact that when women did get the vote it wasn’t initially for every woman.
Do you see a future for more equality for women in your lifetime?
Yes but it’s very slow. To have a gender pay gap in this day and age is ridiculous. We do think that there will be more equality but we think we should have positive discrimination in order to square the balance between men and women. We don’t think this is right but it might be necessary. In order for real change though it has to come from Government policy.
Do you think campaigns like #MeToo are helping?
We think this is a good thing. It has allowed women to come forward, to speak up and be believed. Women should not have to use their body as currency in order to achieve what a man can. The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements will affect change. It’s incredible that Time’s Up managed to raise $21 million in two months, which will go towards legal and financial support for women and men who want to fight sexual misconduct.
So after many conversations it seems that the women who work here feel more positive about the future which can only be a good thing. The only sadness for me is that they have absolutely no idea how hard past generations of women have fought in order for them to have the rights they now currently take for granted. This is absolutely not their fault but the fault of our education system.