Diary of Lisa Taylor, reluctantly 42 (and a half)

Or.. 'f.ck me I'm forty.. two.. and a half', though can look 38 on a - not so deluded - good day. Or 'How to reconcile a well experienced mind trapped in a still - but for how long? – youthful body.' Don't have the 30somethings angst/problems, neither have the resigned (?) ageing baby-boomers in safe family territory outlook yet. Here's how I cope, one day all sexy women will get old... but never invisible. © Lisa Taylor 2005/6/7/8/9. Jeez.. so much for the 42 and-a-half delusion

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

9 March - Women's day

Well, it was yesterday and a very nice talk was organised at my employer with a top flying woman who has in her time run a massive organisation in the UK and now she's a non executive director chez nous. Of course you're encouraged to ask questions afterwars but you can never ask all of them. She seemed to say that when she first started in this world things were easier as a) less structured - but never mind that she has a first class degree from the LSE so she's not short on showing how good her brain is - and b) less PC and she seemed to imply that you have to get to know people in order to get to work the best with them and in the current climate where you can't tease or rub anyone up the wrong way for fear of god knows what reprisals, that's more difficult. I would add that back in her days, she started in 1979, she also had a great decade ahead of lunches from which you didn't have to come back from, and you definitely got to know your client/counterpart or whatever in those situations.

So, the questions you can't ask are 'who did you leave your 3 kids to whilst you were climbing the corporate pole? Cause if you had to go home at 5pm or anytime they were sick or had to attend 3 sets of school plays, there's no way you'd have run company xyz.' But those questions don't get asked. In his intro our ceo says we hire 50/50 gender split at entry level but there's 6% female MD's and in between at the crucial levels from which you spring up eventually to MD there is hardly anyone. Doh! Sherlock. That would be the decade to 15 years that said 50% has to have kids and then decide how to handle re-entry into work. Unless those kids are produced within union with rich guy, you try paying full time nannying and the rest and find that coming back to work is worth it. Hence numbers drop.

I would have to add a pretty reactionary thought, here goes. I think that for making it to the top in any area, you have to really really really want it. Really really really want it means you want it more than you care to be at the school play/or disappoint junior. If you want to make it to the top you have to stick junior in the boarding school from age 7 or 8 and be done with him/her for the next 10 years during which you get to 52, age of this lady, and make your mark/retire to non exec directorship. And that, is that. Men don't cry too many tears at leaving the house if junior has the flu and unless women do the same, they're toast. Same in politics, same in my old world of music/entertainment. And funnily enough you knew who had #1 as the ultimate goal and who was more of a waverer. Sure we need help with work arrangements for childcare but... this is not M&S, this is harder here and you have to make those yourself and not rely on employer to sort out for you.

Another suggestion is to make the bosses of companies 50% women, that way, when another woman says she'd like to move the meeting to a date/time more suitable with the childcare, the other person also being a woman, would understand and move it and not expect woman one to just jump on a plane here there and everywhere. Oh hang on, just thought of a snag. Not all women are mothers so how do we get round that one? Woman #1 with kids says look I can't work through the night and then get the 06.30 flight to be out all day in Madrid and come back landing at 22.00, that simply doesn't work with my life /kids. And woman #2 may say (like any man would), tough, you don't do that, my business goes to someone else.

Solution #3 is to just be reralistic and stop peddling this 'it may not happen in my lifetime but...' and just say to women 'it will never, ever, ever happen, stop trying'. You may think this very fascist on my part but I also watched a programme interviewing many historical giants of feminism theory /politics from Marylin French, Germaine Greer and other US ones and they exuded not a single ounce of success. It's like they tried and tried and tried and as Germaine said there was no revolutions, just a lot of ekeing away at a mountain that still stands there. So forgive me for feeling a bit dejected.

On a personal note, someone after the talk asked me how that made me feel. I said well, superwoman speaker left school not long before me and look where she is today and where I am, sat in the audience with zero power over anything... so there.....


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