No Women Please

I thought I was over this. I really did. Today, however I realised I am not.

Why today?

I spoke to someone who has the job of identifying top talent for clients. Recently two prospective male clients had advised “No Women Please”. When he told me, all I could say was “Wow!”

I wondered what he would say next. To his credit he said he deselected them as potential clients.

It reminded me of the time a few years ago when I was due to speak at a very large Rail Franchise Operator conference on the subject of Organisational Change. A few weeks before the conference, I was told I wouldn’t be speaking to the group after all because I am a woman. I really couldn’t understand it and probed the reasons why my gender would make me unfit to speak on a subject I am very knowledgeable about. I was told the audience was mostly men, and that when a woman had spoken at a previous conference it didn’t go down well. She was given a difficult time by the audience and it had been decided that having a male speaker would avoid such a scenario.

I was dumbfounded. I have spent most of my career in rooms where I was seriously outnumbered by men and am very comfortable presenting to large groups. I’m fairly robust and resilient. I was certain I could handle it. But it wasn’t to be. My gender meant I lost the gig.

This still goes on. It’s not ok.

These men have mums, wives, partners, daughters, sisters. Don’t they see that it’s not ok?

As for the leaders, (I use the term quite loosely), of this organisation, perhaps they should take a look in the mirror.

I’m not sure what they are doing since they lost their franchise …