I'm just back from a trip to Germany to attend the christening of my youngest grandson. It was a happy family occasion, as was to be expected.
I flew over as usual and caught myself telling quite a few people that the aircraft was piloted by a woman. Now why did I do that? I really don't know. It is not as if I believe women are incapable of doing things which were mainly done by men yonks ago. Women pilots have been around for years and no one comments any more. And yet, this being the first time that I had sat in an aircraft piloted by a woman caused me to comment on it. At any rate, I shut up about it very quickly.
This got me thinking. Deep down we are all impressed if a woman does anything we perceive to be out of the ordinary. We have all these powerful female executives heading big corporations and making tough business decisions and some of them have been so kind as to write books on how to get to the top of the corporate ladder. There is a lot of speculation that we might have a woman president of the United States if Hillary Clinton can be persuaded to run. But is the media going to be more interested in what she wears and how she does her hair than in how effective in politics she will be? Take Julia Gillard, the former Prime Minister of Australia. During her 3 years of office she introduced a variety of important bills and yet the media badgered her about looking dowdy and housewifely and were more interested in her relationship with her husband.
Kind of off-putting, isn't it? And I don't feel any too proud of myself to have been remarking on that woman pilot. Do women still need encouragement and empowerment? I have given up on the idea of women being equal to men. It is never going to happen. The working woman who has children at home knows all about the tug on her heartstrings no matter how supportive her partner is. Children need their mothers because mothers play a different role to fathers. We can't get away from that and once we have acknowledged it, we have a better attitude to both family and work. It is no disgrace to be a mother first and foremost - if you have a good relationship with your children, they will always be there for you. On the other hand, if the company you work for no longer needs you they'll chew you up and spit you out. That's the reality.