We had just sent our latest book Coaching Women to Lead to the publishers, our last book Essential Business Coaching was the best seller in the series, and I was taking my time catching up with last week’s Sunday papers. I concluded that we had certainly tapped into the zeitgeist when I found three articles about women in the magazines of the Times. One article described the fact that women interviewed about sexism in the city were unwilling to speak openly about the unfair and unpleasant behaviour that was standard practice, another spoke of women’s lack of self belief and the third. . . . .described the best economic model for prostitution ( if you have to know – raise your prices, reduce your number of clients and above all, get off the streets). In the words of Vivienne in the film Pretty Woman, ‘That’s just geography’.
The 25 successful women we interviewed talked openly and with humour about how different it was for women to succeed than for men. Key issues were how work was designed, the way that women themselves functioned and the reality of responsibilities for family. Organisations were designed for and by men – of a bygone era – whose wives functioned as their executive assistants, with a team of servants in support. As a result women traditionally either became‘men’ or got out and did something else. Confidence is a big issue with women. They are more prone to self-doubt, often because their qualities have not been regarded highly in the past. So, from this glance at the papers, women seem to have two options – become ‘Mice among Men’ or high-class hookers. At least with prostitution, ‘We say who. We say when’ (Pretty Woman, again . . .)