Why Sometimes It Just Has to Be Women Only

I'm often asked, why not do this for the men as well? This is my response

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Regular readers will know I am not anti men. Far from it.

I am, however, pro changing the world so women get equal treatment, and I’m very pro raising awareness of just how unequal that treatment is, even in many enlightened organisations and businesses.

Our workplaces and businesses have been designed by men, for men. Working practices are designed to meet male requirements. One classic example – working practices take little or no account of the need for the human race to procreate. If we had truly gender neutral practices child care would not be the political issue it is. The needs of a society to have healthy, well cared for children would be evident in gender equal practices, and women would not be penalised in their careers for actually having babies. The Scandinavian countries are way ahead of the UK and US on this.

I don’t believe debates of this nature should be seen as women’s issues only. It’s one of the reasons I have changed my mind on women only pressure groups in the workplace. We need the men to understand the issues, and frankly, as that’s where most of the power still resides, we need them to be supportive of change, to help women make change happen. (More on that here: Are Women Only Groups Good For Your Career?)

I make one exception to this rule: in the case of personal development courses in an organisation committed to gender equality, when we’re talking about consciousness raising courses, taking that first step, I firmly believe they need to be for one gender only.

Most of us haven’t got our head around all of the issues, we’re too busy doing the day job. We need space to explore what that means to us. I’ve had experience of doing that in mixed groups and it’s far less productive than single gender groups. In mixed groups, women tend to say less, and men hold the floor. Men can feel embarrassed and defensive when they hear some of the statistics and research on gender inequality. They need time and space to explore their own reactions and thoughts, at least initially.

It’s precisely because I am not anti men that I think having these initial sessions in single gender groups is important, and respectful. Many women will be unaware of the working practices which are very male oriented because it’s all we’ve ever known. Once you give women space to think more deeply about this they become much more sensitised to the issues. As do the men. I know it seems counter intuitive to launch an equality initiative by separating the sexes within an organisation, but it can actually be counter productive to do otherwise.

*I’m grateful to Lusi of StockExchange for use of this image

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Jane C Woods

Women's Personal Development Specialist - Changing People, -

Hi, I’m Jane C Woods and I have an absolute passion for helping women achieve success in their lives. Be it the glass ceiling, the crystal maze, or very personal issues, I’m all about helping women achieve to their full potential and live the way they want to without being carbon copies of men. But I’m not about putting men down in order for women to get ahead, there’s plenty of room; I just want the guys to shifty up a bit… If my face looks familiar it's because I love Psychologies magazine (I've been buying it since the very first issue, such a good resource) and it's the only place I choose to advertise my courses. I write on women’s issues on my blog, www.changingpeople.co.uk, and am regularly featured in magazines, and on radio, but I’m probably best known for RenewYou. RenewYou is my one day personal development course for women. We have an international network of experienced, specialist women licensed to deliver it and empower women across the globe. Our goal is to reach one million women. It’s a big goal but… In 2013 we started with a single RenewYou specialist, me. Now you can find a RenewYou Courses across the UK, in the USA, Canada, Greece, Bangkok, Pakistan, South Africa, Belgium, with new countries being added all the time. My dream was to create a thriving and caring business on ethical, and dare I say, feminine terms, with a real community spirit of help and encouragement. And it’s actually happening with the support, expertise, and enthusiasm of my wonderful trainers. I think, (apart from my two lovely kids, a daughter and a son) that it’s probably my proudest achievement to date. Wonderful Changing People Women: One of the joys and privileges of my work is that I’ve connected with some really inspirational and wonderful women – from politics to entertainment to academia. They include: TV presenter, house fixer and matchmaker Sarah Beeny Amazing entrepreneur Sam Roddick of Coco de Mer Outspoken and entertaining academic Mary Beard Politicians like Siobhan Benita and Natalie Bennett Ex BBC broadcaster Miriam O’Reilly who bravely took on the might of the BBC- and triumphed A very rare interview with Sarah Montague, of the influential BBC Radio 4 Today programme I hope you like the posts and I hope they are helpful. Live life to the max and never hide your light under any bushels!