The (female) director of my team in work was at a work conference last week. Pat Mitchell (and incredibly accomplished American journalist who has been a lifelong advocate for women and girls) held a talk there. The director’s only comment on the talk was that she could barely focus on what was said “because Pat has had so much work done on her face”. This director is also a leadership member of the work’s diversity & inclusion council. Ladies, lets be kinder to each other – Don’t discount a lifetime of amazing work based on their appearance.


I’m a female management consultant in my early 30s. I was in a meeting with another woman, mid-twenties, a man, mid-30s, and a Director, a man in his 50s or so. He started talking about a female client and said “Apparently she had a baby last year, and then took a job where she has to travel every week. Leaving her husband at home with the baby!” I paused, waiting, hoping that the indignation in his voice was for a punch line he had yet to deliver. “Anyway, it’s just odd,” he said. “Is it?” I asked, “Men do that all the time.” “Yeah but that’s different,” was the reply. Our predominantly male leadership wonders what more we can do to retain women after they go on maternity leave. To me it’s no wonder, when they come back to an environment where these types of judgments are being made by their superiors after already having to make a difficult decision to spend some time working away from home.


I am the youngest member of a senior leadership for a large inner city comprehensive school. The head brought in a consultant to work with the senior team. After my meeting I saw him and the head in the corridor and he said to my head “Ah I met this charming young lady earlier. I never forget a lovely face. What a bright spark – but she is fiery!”. I cannot conceive of a male colleague being described like that.


The other day at a talk about leadership: Someone in the audience “- Why do you think there are so few female CEOs?” The guest speaker (male) “- Women are too brilliant to bother with the hassle of being a CEO” (implying that they don’t want to bother with the politics that goes with the job) and of course to justify his point he added “that’s what the women I met in the past told me…” I am just amazed that a renowned leadership speaker can really believe that and also completely ignore the real reasons why so few women are in leadership positions.


Imagine your father telling you (a female) that a woman shouldn’t be president and they don’t need to be in positions of leadership. Imagine yourself smiling to yourself because you’re about to disable his argument by asking a single question. “So if I was in a position of leadership, Dad, you wouldn’t be proud of me?” Then imagine what it feels like when he actually tells you in all seriousness that no, he actually wouldn’t. Your father won’t be proud of you if you’re successful in your career, because you’re female. Imagine the disappointment. It happened to me.