04 / 3 / 2015 12.58pm
Inge Woudstra MSc, director of W2O Consulting & Training. Inge is an expert in gender smart working, speaker, trainer, researcher and author. Her research into gender smart leadership has been supported by NHS Employers.
I am a feminist, and have always been. Stop. Don’t go yet. See, it’s not comfortable telling people you are a feminist. But as Emma Watson recently said 'Feminism isn’t about man hating'. For me being a feminist is all about fairness.
I knew it was unfair from when I was five years old. When I complained I couldn’t climb a tree in a dress and my mum said, ‘Girls need to wear dresses to look nice’. ‘It’s not fair!’
When I proudly demonstrated my whistling skills and my grandpa remarked, ‘When you hear a girl whistling, her decency has gone missing’. ‘It’s not fair!’
When I discovered that boys were doing woodwork in art class and I knew the girls were taught needlework instead. ‘It’s not fair!’
Those days I still thought fairness was all about being treated the same. Since, I have learned the science of gender differences and I have a different idea of fairness. Now I believe that men and women are different, and it’s only fair to treat them differently. Treating them exactly the same is like asking a fish to climb a tree. It’s not going to work. Of course you need to give women the same opportunities, pay and legal position. Of course men and women can achieve the same. But men and women are motivated differently, think differently and pick up different signals, so they are bound to act differently. But the way women act is just as powerful as the way men act.
I am so passionate about difference that I have written a book about it, Be Gender Smart – The Key to Career Success for Women, showing women that it’s okay to be different, and can even bring huge business value.
That’s why I believe we really need the IWD. It shines a spotlight on all the unfairness. The gender pay gap, the inequality in workload at home and abuse of women worldwide. But it also shines a spotlight on the unique value that women bring.
On International Women’s Day it’s like a big spotlight is being put on all those people, like me, that are doing their bit to make a fairer world for women. For a moment the clouds are lifted and I can see who is holding up half the sky. I learn about many initiatives and events I wasn’t aware of before. I make new contacts. It gives me the chance to reach out wider and further, to others like me, but also to people like you, reading this blog. I love the spotlight. It works. I feel stronger and more motivated, knowing I am not alone.
That to me is what IWD is all about.
Pre-register for her book, ‘Be Gender Smart – the Key to Career Success for Women’ at: http://www.w2oconsultingandtraining.co.uk/gender-intelligence/book/ and be the first to get a ‘Look Inside’