It seemed an unlikely place for crushing disappointment, but there we were: four mums sitting around a table at an indoor playground, making small talk while our children struck deals and bargained for top slide position.
I only knew one of the mothers well, a person who's open-minded, interesting and interested. I loved our catch ups post our daughters’ music class, and was looking forward to meeting her other friends. We all chatted, stayed until closing, drove home (probably all listening to the Frozen 2 soundtrack) and only when making dinner with my partner did I realise I was upset.
Nothing stood out particularly, but I realised for the first time in a long time I had encountered a woman who seemed to diminish what the rest of us were expressing.
Madeleine Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”. And while I understand this woman is an individual carrying her own burdens with her own hang ups and didn’t represent a gender, I simply, rightly or wrongly, have come to expect more.
My first job in the travel industry was in an office of some 90+ women and a sprinkling of men (mostly in upper management positions). According to Marianne Cooper, a sociologist at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, when women work with a higher percentage of women they experience lower levels of gender discrimination and harassment. When women have female supervisors, they report receiving more family and organisational support than when they have male supervisors. Cooper also sites studies which show that when more women are in management positions, the gender pay gap is smaller.
And to all this, it was when working with 90 other women from different parts of the world, born in different eras, that I learned we must all work together to achieve equality, happiness and success. Even if you’re not a woman.
So if you only do one thing this Women’s Day make it this: support your sister.
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