Last year marked the centenary of (some) women obtaining the vote and that was a great landmark, though it would be another 10 years before women got the vote on equal terms to men. December this year, however, marks the anniversary of women doing more than just voting. 1919 saw the enactment of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act – an astonishingly far-reaching piece of legislation, though not one that produced instant results it must be said.
As a woman, I have an interest in this anniversary. I hope that, even if you are not a woman, you have an interest on behalf of your wife/daughter/sister/mother/friends/society at large. The Act determined that ‘A person shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage from the exercise of any public function, or from being appointed to or holding any civil or judicial office or post or from entering or assuming or carrying on any civil profession or vocation…’ This meant that women – including married women - could become civil servants, magistrates, jurors and that they could enter professions. Universities could not prevent women from taking degrees.
Fast forward to 2019 and the landscape certainly looks different to how it was, mostly in a positive way. There is certainly not genuine equality but neither (despite many subsequent laws) is there genuine equality for all sorts of groups within society; that’s a road we are all still travelling along slowly. There is, for the most part, acceptance that equality is desirable and should be possible. There is also, at some level, a residual element of old-fashioned sexism, alongside the everyday reality of issues such as childcare, all of which slow progress.
From my point of view, the Pluralist lifestyle is ideal for women as well as men. Portmanteau careers give flexibility and ensure that skills learned early in our careers can be utilised fully in a different way and under our own control. The Pluralists I know don’t care about gender, race, class or anything apart from ability and ideas. We have to be careful not to confuse a Pluralist career with the gig economy too. The latter can often be the only option for young people of either sex and is not necessarily an active choice. Pluralists have looked at their life and all its demands and made a positive decision to pick and choose the things they get involved with.
And the next step? Let’s encourage more people, but especially women, to look at the choices they have. Anyone who can combine a career with children, parents, spouses and everything else that gets thrown at them can most certainly take up that NED position or part time role. Let’s all go out and find some suitable candidates to join us.