Last week, I was honoured to be invited by board member Jacqui Oatley to attend the latest Women in Football event. I have to say I was very interested but also slightly apprehensive. Having grown up working in such a men’s environment and been fiercely protective of my reputation within the game to be treated as an equal, I didn’t want to go to an event that made excuses, bashed men and singled them out. After all what we would we say if there was a Men In Football group?
I was pleasantly surprised. A group of like-minded individuals keen to share stories but also support each other. I met with old colleagues, recognized industry faces and learnt that leadership is an evolving skill. It was a great event.
For me being a woman in a very male dominated industry has most definitely been challenging at times. From the way men look at you at Football stadiums, to how players found it awkward to talk about their careers, and I cant count the amount of times I’ve been challenged on statistics. “What minute did John Barnes score THAT goal?” So I’m proud to now run a business that is built on a great reputation within the game in which I’ve worked since 1994.
However, I think football is such an easy target at times, I’m sure women in the armed forces, stockbroking and many other professions have come across questionable behavior – for me its more about your drive and focus than your sex.
Of course people have tried to bully me and I’ve had some dark times within my career, but you may also be surprised to know that some of those people whose behaviour was truly questionable were in fact women.
During my career I have always championed women within the industry. I feel this is important. Not only because I know their path, but also just because we all like to be supported and cared about. There have been unfortunately some women who find other women a huge threat, they want to undermine, they want to undercut and they want to diminish your reputation. Disappointing? Yes it is. I want to say to them, “We have enough of a hard time out there without you making this difficult,” The worse kind of women I’ve faced are the ones that use their sexuality, it undermines us at the very core of what we try and achieve, mainly to be seen as equals. Don’t get me wrong you do need to be good at your job but to use your wily charm to get your own way or do business I feel is wholly disgraceful.
I will also continue to support women in the work place and look forward to the next WIF event. We have to be in charge of our own destinies and recognize our strengths and areas of development in the very way men also do, but what I feel strongly about is that we shouldn’t try and destroy each other in the process.
Judge your colleagues, clients and competitors according to their work delivery not on their sex. That is the best way to be seen and treated as an equal. Surely?