Dear Michelle, we’d love you to be involved in our #shehelped campaign shouting about women helping other women…
Erm, hell yeah.
When Canesten asked me to share a time I was helped by another woman, I was a bit chuffed that I struggled to narrow it down to just one story. I talk a lot about women not tearing each other down but don’t tend to big up the women who’ve helped me. We all could do with doing this more. So I’ll get us started shall I? The obvious choice for this would have been my mamma but those are some stories that are far too big for today.
So today lets chat about someone I work with who inspires me daily and without whom I would have failed this shiny new career quite spectacularly a hundred times over. Don’t tell her I said so though, it’ll only go to her head.
You know I switched to a hugely male dominated profession nearly two years ago (financial services by the way, the fairly uninteresting cat is out of the bag). As it’s not something I trained in, the only real option to me was to go in right at the bottom and claw my way up kicking and screaming. It’s strange to be a trainee at thirty two. It’s even stranger to be the most junior person and a female in a business filled with men. I feel like a donkey in roller skates, scrabbling to keep myself upright and moving in the right direction without falling headfirst into a really awful stereotype. Sure, I’m making the tea but that’s because I’m a trainee, not a woman ‘k? It feels like a constant battle.
J also joined this industry after having a wonderfully successful creative business in a past life, she’s driven, committed and super smart. She holds her own and encourages me to do the same every single day. She has carved out an amazing niche for herself in this industry where women are unilaterally under-represented other than in admin: it’s ridiculously inspiring to watch. She is also unfailingly supportive of my own journey across this penis filled minefield. Whenever there is an opportunity she will push me forward, sing about my successes and strive for more opportunities for women in our business. She encourages me to stand up for myself, to reject the painful stereotypes and to own my career path. With a different mentor I would still be the trainee, the woman making the tea and typing the men’s emails and weeping. Often. With a different mentor I’d have hot footed it back to marketing and stayed there in the warm comfort blanket of a career with greater gender equality and that I could do with my eyes shut.
I confess in my sheltered little life to date, I’ve never really needed this kind of support, or at least never recognised that I needed it. But J has shown me the importance of pushing each other forward, of supporting each-others’ achievements, of being unapologetic and unashamedly female is the only way to continue moving towards gender equality in those areas we are yet to reach it. It has to start somewhere and I’m incredibly grateful to have her there day in, day out. I finally feel excited to move forward and to support the women coming into this career behind me and that’s all down to her.
OK, over to you. For a chance to win a John Lewis voucher, tell me below about the women that have inspired you at work, at home or at play. Let’s spread the love.
To enter, comment below and use the rafflecopter widget to register your entry. The competition will close on 24th March and a winner picked at random. UK only this time.
In between helping us all feel a bit more comfortable with our bodies and providing the best thrush treatment this side of M&S cotton knickers, Canesten sponsored this post however all gushing about my awesome mentor and excessive animal analogies are my own.