Women really do have it all

 

We are always hearing about how we should have more women everywhere –  in Parliament, in boardrooms, as judges – you name it, we need more women there.

But there are already women in all of these roles. And women are amply represented in medicine, in aviation, in engineering, in education. Frankly, they are everywhere.

And, this is great.  Women are educated, capable, and can give an enormous amount to their chosen professions. And to misquote Justin Trudeau, it is 2018. So we expect to see women succeeding. They choose what to study. They choose their careers. They choose to look after their children. They choose to juggle work and family. Women can decide for themselves what they will do, and they are all very good at it.

But in 2018, women are still treated like a special interest group. When will everyone learn that true equality will only ever be achieved by allowing women to be what they want when they want and exactly how they want? Because that is how things are in the world of men.

So why do we still bang on about a quota system? There should be 50% women MPs, says Labour. The Greens insist on having a female co-leader, which they do not need. It made the news that the number of female lawyers has overtaken the number of males. This is not news – the accountants managed this a few years ago – but hear me loud and clear –

SO WHAT?

I am a woman so I can say this. A man CAN’T say this unless he wants to be branded as a filthy chauvinist, but it is true nonetheless. Women can do anything, and we can thank the generosity of men and the effects of two world wars for getting us to where we are now. But all this posturing has to stop.

Quota systems degrade all women. Every time a woman is appointed to a senior role, everyone wonders if she was really the best ‘man’ for the job – or was she given the role because she is a woman? There is no getting away from it – quota systems degrade all women.

Plus, it is not as if we need it. Margaret Thatcher became PM of Britain in 1979. Indira Ghandi became Prime Minister of India in 1966. Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic in 1932. Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903. These may have been trailblazing women in their own time, but the roads are well and truly worn down now.

And yet, when Jacinda Ardern became the third female Prime Minister of New Zealand, everyone behaved as if something amazing had happened for womankind. (Sorry, Justin – Personkind – must be inclusive.) People from all over the world rushed in breathlessly to commend her, and New Zealand, on their forward thinking. Nobody seemed to care that a vacuous female with no work experience had just been propelled into the role of Prime Minister, for which she was woefully unprepared. It seems that everyone can ignore all that when a woman takes the top job. An unskilled, untrained, inexperienced woman, that is.

Imagine if a vacuous male with no work experience had been appointed as Prime Minister.  What would the fawning media have had to say about that? Yep – you guessed it –

#toomanymen,  #ohsomale. #needmorewomen. Etcetera, etcetera ad nauseam.

But here is the thing. So long as women are treated as a special interest group, there will be no level playing field. Jacinda may turn out to be an excellent competent Prime Minister, but at the moment, she is the new Messiah. In the end, she can only fail, because the expectations of someone extremely average are massive.

So what does this do for women who really are excellent at their job? It does absolutely nothing because everything is slanted in their favour anyway. That’s the trouble.

Winston didn’t think Jacinda was the best man for the job. He believed he could get more out of her than out of the other lot. He knew she was pregnant and made sure he would get a stint at the top job. All good reasons for Winston to install her as Prime Minister, which he did. But hardly a ringing endorsement for womankind, is it?

“The new leader of National needs to be a woman.” No. It needs to be the best person for the job, whoever that is.

“Only a woman can tackle Jacinda in the House and get away with it.” Really? So women are not equal to men after all because a man questioning Jacinda will result in her dissolving into a  pool of tears? Even I think Jacinda is better than that.

Why though? Are women not tough enough to survive in the hard world of politics? Margaret Thatcher seemed to do OK. But the difference is that she had to prove that she was as capable as any man. In 1979, this was groundbreaking for women. No one batted an eyelid at the time. Whereas the rise of Jacinda has been treated like the Second Coming. In 2018? Why is that?

So ladies, suck it up before someone realises what a crock it all is. You already get a year’s maternity leave with paid parental leave, and you can’t be fired while you are pregnant. That is not equality, that is pure and simple favouritism. You can shop around for a new position while on maternity leave, while your employer has no choice but to hold your job open for you. You can be appointed  Director and work three days a week, taking the other two days to look after the kids. Find me a man that can qualify for all that! And Parliament is about to be turned into a creche – no one will be able to hear the Speaker over babies crying in the House. How many male MPs will bring in babies to bottle feed? I’m sure the answer will be none – and not because they are filthy chauvinists, but rather because the House is not actually a great place for a baby.

And there are other things you can get away with. Teresa Gattung got thunderous applause for saying that, if a woman had been in charge of Fletcher Building, they wouldn’t have made big losses. She conveniently forgot that, in 2013,  Mainzeal, which did have a woman on its Board, went broke. But never let the facts get in the way of a good story – particularly when no one, especially not a man, dares to contradict you.

In my working life, all I have ever wanted was to be employed for my skills – both technical and interpersonal. If there was a better candidate, male or female, then I lost out. And so it should be. Women appointed to roles solely because they are women are being set up to fail. And I cannot imagine why anyone would ever want that.

I’m glad women get more and more opportunities these days. But please stop treating us like a special interest group. Most of us really do deserve better.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

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