A recent study from the Fawcett Society – the UK’s leading gender equality and women’s rights charity – showed that while two thirds support feminist principles, only 7% actually describe themselves as a feminist.
I learnt this through attending Fawcett’s Women at the top: time for quota’s? panel event. As part of their 150th anniversary celebrations they kicked off their first event of the year with a panel debate discussing the need for quotas for women in top level positions in the private and public sector.
To set the scene Damian Lyons Lowe, CEO of Survation, the agency behind Sex Equality 2016: State of the Nation a report commissioned by Fawcett, shared some of the more significant findings. Whilst the panel debate was interesting, the word cloud made up of words people associated with feminism – from ‘equality’ to ‘biased’ to ‘trouble’ – was what captured my attention.
Over two thirds of people support gender equality – but few actually describe themselves as a feminist, despite believing strongly in gender equality.
8,000 people surveyed were asked to say the first word that came into their heads when they heard the word ‘feminist.’ It triggered a wide range of responses, from negatives such as ‘bitchy’ (26%) to positives such as ‘strength’ (22%). Names like Hilary Clinton and political connotations such as ‘suffragette’ were also mentioned on a number of occasions.
I predominantly work with women who tell me they want to see a more equal world. For themselves and for their impending or growing young families. But then subscribe to less equal sharing of caring at home, picking up the majority of housework or domestic tasks over and above their partners which naturally continues and increases as the move further into motherhood . It sows the seed for continuing imbalance in the workplace and it seems our confusion or reluctance to stand in our power and want to be equal (not superior) to the men in our world and state this is our intention is very muddled.
Getting clear on your own views and beliefs and being able to demonstrate it fully in your day-to-day actions takes conscious thought. But with clarity comes confidence and those challenging conversations, be they with your boss, your bestie or your husband or boyfriend become much simpler.
Here’s to being proud and clear on what being a feminist means.