Today’s Guardian continues: “There is concern at the number of female MPs, including Nicky Morgan and Amber Rudd, who have cited the extent of the abuse they are subjected to as a reason for their departure.”* Women are stepping down at a younger age and after fewer years serving as an MP than their male counterparts, despite years of encouragement to stand for parliament and improve the gender balance.

And so the pattern continues… Women entering traditionally male professions give up sooner and mostly reach lower ranks than the men who started out their careers alongside them; I only have to look around at my own network of former female engineers, scientists and researchers and our male counterparts who continue to further their salaried careers.

Of course it’s depressing; none of us joined in order to give up. We understood the promise of those glittering careers and we knew they were equally open to us as to the men. We worked at least as hard as them, but it was always different for us. We stood for change, but it didn’t come fast enough to keep up with us. Change is more urgent now than ever, which is why women as a whole mustn’t stop.

It’s hard to encourage women to keep battling in the traditionally male professions. We get chewed up and spat out. As individuals, why would we put ourselves through the mill? Here are some of my reasons:

  • I’ve got no regrets about the career path I chose. Chemical engineering stretched me and I always knew I could pick up softer subjects in my own time. I can turn my hand to anything and do it well in my 50s, just as I did in my teens.
  • Having worked on hazardous manufacturing sites, nothing much phases me. I can command respect in car and bike workshops just as well as in offices and board rooms. Wherever you are now, I’ve probably been somewhere similar too.
  • I can tap into an enormous wealth of knowledge and personal experience which gives me insights into a whole range of subjects. It makes me valuable.

Women’s voices matter. We need to be in the room, at the table, on the stage. Men make poor decisions on their own.

* Belam, M, Walker, P and Levitt, D, The Guardian [online] 08-11-2019, accessed 08-11-2019. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/31/which-mps-are-standing-down-at-the-2019-general-election