Many years ago I got a phone call I had been waiting for, it was a call from the television series The Bill (okay it was a while ago). The Bill had been attracted by a script that I had sent in and some ideas, I was advised not to offer ideas alone, in case they were appropriated and used without me or without credit, some good advice at least, but it was what happened next that was the kicker. I was discussing what progress I could make and we had got as far as the possibility of training to write for The Bill, when my children made a noise in the background. ‘Have you got children?’ said the voice on the end of the phone. I did not disown them ‘Yes bu…’ the words “but I have child care, I can manage” never left my mouth before the voice on the other end of the line said ‘You do not have the commitment The Bill requires.’ and they hung up.
Perhaps I should have pursued that, perhaps I should have lied and said they were my sister’s children (it was before mobile phones so I couldn’t say I was in the street), perhaps I did give up on them too easily, suffice to say The Bill is long gone and I am still writing.
I write this in the light of today’s survey of women who believe they suffer discrimination after having a baby, and also do not protest the injustice to their employer. Of course, in my case I was freelance, hard to bring a grievance and the problem with bringing a grievance is confidence. There is always a reason why you might not be as good as the person chosen to do the job you were aiming to get. If you challenge your employer, aside from the ill will it generates, it is difficult to prove that your particular skill set will do better than your competition because there are two ways to look at your success or lack of it
- That you am a talented woman who through lack of opportunity and the presence of a glass ceiling is thwarted
- That you are deluded as to the level of your talent and deserve to be denied.
The truth is that many women might feel there is justification for number 2 and while that argument might have some merit, the statistics for the number of women in senior roles across the country are so poor that it would suggest employment decisions do favour men, not even the unencumbered woman. It is more likely that women step aside when they should really bite the bullet and challenge their employers, perhaps through grievance procedures, to really justify their decisions,. That’s not much good for the freelance of course, but according to yesterday’s news some girls could start honing their negotiation skills at home and at least get equal pocket money!