Just recently I have been thinking a lot about the inequalities with men and women. I watched the ‘Suffragette’ film, which tells the story of women fighting for the vote in the early 1900s. Women battled for a long time to win the vote but it took many years and many casualties to the campaign, before this was achieved. Women won the vote in 1918 but this was limited to householders over 30; the rest of women didn’t get voting rights until 1928. I wonder would the suffragettes be happy with where we are now?
It is a 100 years this year since women won the vote but there are still many areas where we still don’t have equality. Last week I watched the film ‘Battle of the sexes’, which is set in the early 1970s. It centres on a tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs and it focuses on the imbalance of power in tennis, where men were paid significantly more than the women. Billie Jean led a challenge to the system and the following year women were paid the same as men in the US open. However, tennis remains one of the only sports spheres where women are paid equal to men.
In the late 1990s, I was running my own soft furnishings company and I did a lot of the fittings. I would turn up and begin bringing in all of the equipment and the men of a certain age (sixties upwards!) would ask ‘where is the man?’ Some men would then watch me while I drilled the fittings, not believing that I was capable of actually doing the job. When I bought my two grown up kids some Ikea flat packed furniture, it was my daughter Ella who was far better at putting it all together, so why is it still assumed to be a male oriented job?
There are only seven women CEOs in the FTSE top 100 companies. In the UK women are still paid, on average, 15% lower than men. Yet we have a female prime minister, a female head of state and Denise Coates founder of Bet365 who reportedly earned more than Richard Branson last year! It still seems that we have a way to go to be considered equal to men and yet I have to agree with the words of William Golding,
‘I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men; they are far superior and always have been.’