It’s International Women’s day, which is awesome but at the same time begs the question why in 2016 we still need a day to celebrate Women? is there are day we celebrate men? Shane my business partner loves asking when when it will be Ok for him to start a middle aged white male club? I kinda get some of his points but…..

Fact is it’s 2016 and we still have a range of inequality and rights issues in the world, women are one segment who faces prejudice.

The concept of an International Women’s day is curious, I am off to a movie viewing tonight Code: Debugging the Gender Gap which looks amazing and will be a theatre filled with fabulous women in Tech. At the same time I find myself scratching my head about a number of things on the topic of Women. Here are three such Head Scratchers:

Head Scratcher #1 – criticism of successful women

Bronnie who works for OptimalPeople as our Contracts Administrator and Event Manager has a fabulous hobby – she is a pilot and flying instructor. Leading up to today – International Women’s Day – the local news media wrote a lovely piece on Bronnie and 3 fellow pilots, all women, all achieving amazing things in the male dominated aviation industry. I am very proud and bravo to Bronnie and her colleagues.

One quote from the article provides perspective on what a minority these 4 women are in the aviation industry:

According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, in 2015 there were 30,000 commercial pilots worldwide, of which 4000 were female and 450 were female captains.

The perplexing element of this was the comments people wrote against the article. As Taylor Swift tells us the Haters gonna hate no matter what, the extent to which people commented that women generally are – seeking special treatment, positive discrimination, Female privilege in action and mention of quota’s all really surprised me.

How has the promotion of encouraging women into non-traditional roles and industries, a culture of women can do anything (if you are my age you will have grown up with the “girls can do anything campaign”) and celebrating the positive achievement of fellow human beings – male or female – have turned into a such negative discussion?

Head scratcher #2 – men who preach to women on women’s issues

Through my support of startups, advocacy and liaison roles, not to mention as a business owner, I meet Loads of people. A new trend I have experienced recently is Men who feel the need to preach to me about gender equality issues facing women. Most don’t proffer solutions preferring to share their often newfound realisation just-in-case I didn’t know! those who do have solutions think they have cracked it (I have to stop now or this rant will never end).

My usual reaction to this kind of lecture is – How Dare He – how dare this man sit there and lecture me on how hard it is to return to the workforce as a woman, on a complete lack of flexible working environments for women, on how terribly all employers (blanket statement there) treat women, on how hard it is to be a working mother, be promoted, be successful blah blah blah. I returned to the workforce once, I am a flexible employer of working mothers, I was even a working mother once, I fought for pay equality and promotions once-upon-a-time and I feel successful so why do I need to hear that I am not?

Then I find myself wondering – Why does this man consider this is news to me? or is it all new to him? and he therefore assumes news to everyone? even the very people he is describing? Agh!

You might scoff but this scenario is getting more and more common. On the positive side this means men in the workforce are becoming enlightened as to the challenges women face. They just need to learn when and how to channel their enthusiasm now.

Headscratcher #3 – STEM vs STEAM debate

When I went to senior secondary school I was the only girl at Nelson College for Boys in Workshop Engineering, and one of 10 in Physics class. These I now know were STEM subjects and while the majority of Nelson Girls took languages, cooking, sewing, typing and other more Arts aligned subjects there were still a few of us hanging out in the Science, Engineering and Mathematics departments.

The whole STEM debate is well versed in media, western countries are focusing on bringing girls into STEM based curriculums and making roles in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics more attractive – or an attractive option – career paths for girls and roles for women.

What I don’t get is why a relatively well documented issue which has gained momentum of voice and activity is being confused by creating other acronyms? like STEAM (adding Arts) or STEMM (adding Music) or STREAM (adding Reading and Arts). To me this is all missing the point, girls love to read, are attracted to Arts curriculum and creative jobs so why should we move from a focus on changing the landscape with regards STEM subjects by adding Reading, Arts, Music back into the effort?

Lets Celebrate

Head scratchers aside it is international women’s day today, very awesome to celebrate. Here are some articles celebrating the achievements of women published today:

I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” (Virginia Woolfe). Lovely quote, often misquoted. Vic.

virginia woolf