This week the Church of England has voted to allow women to become Bishops, and about time too. It’s only taken about 600 years but religion has finally caught up with a modern society. Also this week we have seen David Cameron carry out an axe to his cabinet in his biggest reshuffle and in turn has promoted 10 women to higher positions. Some see it as a cynical ploy to appeal to women voters with the general election not that far away. But either way you look at it, it’s been a good week for women representation. So that got me to thinking about the roles women play in our own industry.

Asking The Right Question

Is it a case of asking is there enough women, or the right women? I have observed the argument recently from some corners that say more women need to be added to workplaces, almost as a blanket  policy. And whilst I agree that I think most places could do with some more women to help the gender balance, I don’t think a blanket policy works in practice.

Instead, I think we should be promoting the right women in the right places. In fact that is a policy I believe in, whether it be for male or female workers. The risk I believe is that by mass hiring people in the name of gender balance brings with it a risk that a certain degree of those people would not be right for the job.

Speaking to companies on Twitter earlier on today, there seems to be whole departments that are made up mostly of women. But it’s not because they are just women, but they are the right women. They are good at what they do and good for the company. Male or female, this should be the main reason why someone is employed, if they are good at what they do.

All Jobs Accessible

Walk into any window and door showroom, and you’re likely to be welcomed by a smiling lady who would be ready to introduce you to the rest of the company and other staff members. Which is fine, but I have always felt like women have always been nurtured into certain jobs and held back from certain others.

For example, walk into any window factory shop floor and you’ll find that most, if not all, are men. But why? I am pretty sure that some women could do just a perfectly good job as the men do. And that doesn’t just apply to window manufacturing, but all manufacturing and hands on trades. Women are just as capable with their hands as men are. So why the lack of women in trades and manufacturing?

I blame the culture in which women are brought up in. From a young age I think most are taught that most heavy duty jobs are ideal for men, not for women. I think subconsciously they are encouraged to seek out jobs in offices, going for administrative duties like payroll, office manager etc. Which is fine if that is the ideal job. But for those who don’t want office based jobs, as a society we have to create an environment where women can aim for any career in any line of work.

The year is 2014, man or woman, every job should be perfectly accessible to everyone.

Wrong Image, Wrong Perception

I guess a side issue connected to the representation of women is the image of women that the media portray to the general public. I remember quite an angry response to a certain women’s magazine that heavily focused on how the Duchess of Cambridge was going to get back in shape after just having her prince. The way women are objectified in today’s media, the pressure put on them to be a certain size, a certain shape, dress in a particular way, non of this is helpful.

And we have an incorrect perception of women too. Society is brought up believing that women’s roles are best behind a desk or at home. That perception is changing, but only in the younger generation that is being brought up with equal rights. I still believe the older generation believe women “have their place”. Well the sooner that dies out the better.

We Shouldn’t Be Having This Debate

When you think about it, the fact that we are still having to talk about issues like this is a disappointment. In such a modern and civilised society, the fact that we still have to talk about women’s equality and women’s rights is poor. It appears that old attitudes are still difficult to kill off, as I said above, mainly in the older generation.

Shifting the deep-seated ideologies of some of the older generation is going to be hard, if not impossible to do. And while they hold positions of power and influence, I think that will always be a barrier to progression of equal rights. But we might not have to wait too long. I hope that in a decade or two, women will be on a par with men in terms of pay, job prospects and general attitude towards each other.

More Women At All Levels

As I said earlier, gender balance is good, providing the right people are chosen for those jobs, and not chosen just because they are female. But it would be nice to see more women at all levels within our industry and not just occupying desk roles. For example, I think some female installers would be a great asset to an installations company. A woman’s eye for detail can sometimes be better than man’s. I know my better half is more creative than I am! That sort of skill can be quite useful on-site.

We could do with skilled women in other positions, such as sales, surveying, CEOs and everywhere in between. I think it would be a good thing not only for the face of any business, but for the internal atmosphere as well. A good, mixed group of people I think always gets on better with each other than a room full of men or women.

If you were to ask me if there are enough women in our industry, I’d say no. But I’d also say that our industry needs to find that right women for the rights jobs if we are to achieve good gender balance.

It is also right to point out that women continue to make inrodes all the time. We are seeing the pay gap become smaller. There are more women CEOs on FTSE 100 companies than ever before. And in positions of power we are seeing more women take those positions all the time. But of course more can always be done.

What are your thoughts? All comments welcome in the section below.