Women have waited long enough to break the glass ceiling and longer still to be invited to the tables of power. We no longer want to be the plus one, or pretzel ourselves into pieces to fit the power game. In fact, women want to shift the power paradigm that fits our purposes. We don’t want points for boasting about how busy we are anymore. We don’t want to have to prove our worth. It’s time to draw up a whole new structure that supports, not stresses, working women.
Women and Equity
A recent study asserts that, in line with our current trajectory, it will take women another 130 years to gain pay equity. Yes. I know… I can’t wait that long and neither can my Botox. Something feels off, doesn’t it? Like a hamster on a wheel, no matter how hard we work, we can’t keep up with it all.
And then it came to me.
We’re playing the wrong game. We’ll lose every time, because the rules are not in our favour.
The Big Lie
We were told that we could do it all. And so we did. Because that’s what women do. We get 💩 done! I’m not boasting when I list my usual schedule with the kids, getting all three to different hockey arenas (Canadian 🇨🇦mom here- please insert sport/musical or arts activity according to your area), organising car pools and meals, navigating Toronto’s infamous traffic (see Tom Cruise’s POV on this…. Tom Cruise asks 'What's up with the traffic in Toronto?' in interview ) and getting kids to finish homework. All the while taking calls and wearing my heels and lipstick.
The latter I do for me, by the way.
No wonder we’re all exhausted and leaving our jobs Women in the workplace: Breaking up to break through - McKinsey
And after all this… we women still earn less. The so-called “Mother Tax” reveals the price of motherhood that we’ve all felt. It’s not just mothers too- this affects all women who tend to become caretakers for family, a kind of understood duty. All this unpaid labour may look like "We can do it all!” but Superwoman has had enough.
Round Tables Work Better
So instead of mimicry, let’s create a new power paradigm. No more long corporate boards here, we want round tables with collaborative voices all given their due. There’s no room for ego, less power wielded for status, and more power used for advancement.
In their new book entitled The Power Code: More Joy. Less Ego. Maximum ... - Amazon.ca Katty Kay and Claire Shipman address the need for a distinctly female work module that incorporates our needs rather than negate them. The system no longer works for us- perhaps it never did. We plugged into a mainframe that was built by men, for men. So we adapted (is this an electrician’s blog…?) and made ourselves morph into whatever shape necessary.
According to The Power Code,
“We worked harder than men, played by their rules and hid the photos of our kids. We even dressed like them… despite our heroic progress in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when women decided that the only way in was to openly march and fight, most of us are still gazing out, impatiently, at a sea of glass. Why aren’t we there yet? How long will this trip take, really? And if we have to break the glass to get in, is this the right destination in the first place?
Our reward? Minimal impact. The number of women in parliaments, C-suites and boardrooms has stayed depressingly stagnant.”
A Woman is Like a Tea Bag. You never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water… Eleanor Roosevelt
So more and more we are seeing women build their own frameworks of power with distinctly female scaffolding. Anna Whitehouse has been long advocating for flexible working hours for women- NOT longer ones. Her work also includes advising businesses to allow greater understanding of women’s lives within the work paradigm. Certainly working from home has allowed more women greater flexibility (this goes without saying that dads help out a lot too- but I think we can all agree that it’s usually women who do the emergency pick-ups from school) should childcare issues crop up. However, working from home means that work and home boundaries become ever more blurred.
Those who have come before us have also worked hard for women’s place in the world of power. Dame Stephanie Shirley, was a pioneer champion for women in early computer programming. She manually cut out cards for binary code- I need a lie-down just thinking of that! Her 1962 Freelance Programmers business was made flexible for women and their unique life changes. Perhaps she was so attuned to this gap in the business world because her son, Giles, required complex care due to autism.
“I felt strongly that my ‘female’ approach, which had attracted such scorn in the business’s early years, had been vindicated… Our purpose now was to provide employment for people with dependants unable to work in a conventional environment.”Let It Go: My Extraordinary Story - From Refugee to Entrepreneur to …
A Banquet of Possibility….
Together women have recognised the need for a new working environment, one that supports rather than punishes our caregiving or parental needs. In fact, many women lead their own entrepreneurial enterprises to allow them greater control and JOY in their creative businesses. Recently Trinny Woodall interviewed Jo Malone on her podcast Fearless | Podcast on Spotify.
A beautiful discussion unfolded using language to describe our very unique challenges, reflecting the individual and collective voice of women. One point really struck home when Jo Malone said that her move to Dubai, prompted by crippling anxiety developed during the pandemic lockdowns, was a leap of faith into a ‘banquet of possibility’.
Who wouldn't want to be at that table?