Monday, 23 February 2015

Patricia Arquette nails it

I am often asked how I got ahead in the beauty industry. And the truth is, I hit the glass ceiling pretty early on. I was 'opinionated' (aka 'had an opinion'), always stuck up for my co-workers, wouldn't put my work before my family - and didn't expect my employees to - and I demanded equal pay.

The beauty industry, like the majority of industries, is still ruled, in general, by middle-aged (and older) white men.
The heads of  most, not all, but most companies are men. Privileged, college-educated, white men.

Please do not mistake my passion for women's rights and equality as misandry. I have fabulous men in my life and am trying to raise 3 fabulous men of my own. But my wonderful home life experience has in no way been reflected in my work life. It is not easy to get ahead. But you can do it.

Some of the questions I have been asked along the way include:
'Oh you're keeping it then?' - when I told my boss I was pregnant.
'You know that's a really good salary for someone who doesn't have a degree.' - Yes, let's ignore my 20 years of experience (at the time).
'Who will take care of your children while you're doing shifts?' - Oddly a question no-one has ever asked my husband.
'What are you going to do about childcare in the summer holidays?' - see above
'Are you pregnant?' - I'm sorry? What?
'Do you plan to have any more children?' - none of your business. Also: kind of been illegal to ask me that for a long time..
'I hope you're not going to ask for time off to go to a nativity play?' - I reminded them of the umpteen hours of unpaid overtime I had given them and YOU KNOW I went to my child's play. (This was a female brand owner by the way)

and my personal favourite, when I declined a big role with a multi-national company because they wouldn't match my required salary:

'This is what we feel you are worth.' - Well, excuse me. I decide my worth, not you. And FYI, I know XXX that also does this job, has 15 years less experience than me and has the courtesy of a penis between his legs is on £15k more than this as we speak, for the same role.

And it's not just the men, women higher up than me have all too frequently pulled the ladder up behind them, something I have vowed never to do. Something none of us should do.

I do love the beauty industry, but I love my fellow woman more. Whatever your colour, religion, sexual orientation, educational background, political standing or personal history, know your worth, don't have it judged for you by someone else.

And if you can't get ahead, start your own company and forge your own path. I'm proof that it can be done.

And always, always, pull yourself up with one hand - but leave a hand free for your sister.

96 comments:

  1. I don't usually comment Caroline, but this is brilliant. Thankyou for telling the truth. The workplace is NOT an even playing field.

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  2. Caroline, you've nailed it.

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  3. Amen! Love this you are such an Inspiration! Not just because of your job and being full of wisdom, But also for not being Afraid to tell it like it is!

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  4. Perfectly said. That was such a great moment.

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  5. Loved it! unfortunately in the XXI century society looks at women not as equal compared to men. For example here in Portugal there are companies that give a document with the empployment contract where women declare that they will not get pregnant for 5 years. Illegal i know, but it happens... Me for example, quit a good job (in €€) because in my previous work they didn't liked the absences for the medical appointments of my son (he has congenital glaucoma). They didn't like it and so i quit because my son is more important.

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  6. Yes, yes and yes again. Brilliant post.

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  7. Thank you Caroline for your brilliant wisdom and for being a decent human being that has integrity and dignity! Wouldn't the world be such a better place if we all were just a little kinder??

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  8. so much love for you, caroline! this was brilliant!

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  9. You'll probably REALLY enjoy this speech by Shonda Rhimes if you haven't read/seen it already. Crediting her success to the women who went before: "Making it through the glass ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other woman’s footprints. ... Thank you to all the women in this room. Thank you to all the women who never made it to this room. And thank you to all the women who will hopefully fill a room 100 times this size when we are all gone."
    https://medium.com/thelist/on-ceilings-made-of-glass-e4b8561e46f8

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  10. Well said Caroline!!! Any advice on starting your own company? Would love to hear your thoughts on that!

    www.peonyandpeach.blogspot.com

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  11. Perfectly put, especially the bit about women pulling up the ladder behind them, this I've seen too many times, well done for standing against this attitude.
    What indeed would the world be like if all people, regardless of gender, sexuality, class, culture or religion, were valued equally on their merit and potential?

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  12. i agree with almost everything. But saying white men this or that..is equally racist as say black.men this or that.. just saying... cause i see doble standards everywhere...

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    1. No I'm sorry in this case it's fact, not racist.

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    2. Just like it is also a fact that at a high level, the legal system in the UK is dominated by white middle-aged men. The fact that there is only one woman in the Supreme Court - and no person of colour - is just that, a fact.

      We must not claim that anything to do with somebody's colour is racist. Like I tell the kids I teach: stating that a person is of whatever colour is not racist, but implying/saying something bad about it is.

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    3. It simply is not racist at all, it's a statement of well known fact. Making an observation based in reality is nothing to do with prejudice.

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  13. PREACH!! I work for a project that works around women's inequality in the labour market, and I feel very privileged to do so. I am so bloody passionate about women being valued, properly valued by society. My job is equal parts fascinating and frustrating, but I'll always have a hand free for my sisters ✊

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  14. Here Here! A male journalist commented on Patricia Arquette speech that she was drunk!!! *ffs*

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  15. Here's to sisterhood and a fantastically well written post.

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  16. Word. Perfectly put.

    Regarding the women who make it to the top and pull the ladder up behind them: In my experience, they do it for two reasons. 1) They fear that the men around them are kind of okay with one woman encroaching on their territory but that's it. And if the women who made it starts helping her fellow women, the men might become scared. This fear is not without foundation but it's no reason to be a ... well. 2) They like being the only woman among men. (Far less common in my experience but it happens).
    I don't understand either because other people's success does not take away yours, it doesn't diminish it in any way. I see it every day at work (it's a big firm). People being scared of other people's skill and knowledge although there is no reason for it whatsoever. Me, I try to take it all in and walk around like a sponge. Asking for help does not mean you failed. Neither does someone else's success.

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    1. Or, because they have internalised the very same patriarchal (please don't let that word frighten you!) structures that oppress women in general in order to make it to the top themselves?
      Say, they choose to not have children, or choose to have them but in no way let it interfere with their work (i.e. hire nannies).
      What they are doing is simply reproducing and reinforcing patriarchal values of what is important and what is not. Thus, they themselves remain "at the top" despite being female (due to conforming) and keep other women (who are not willing to reinforce the same structures and values) down.
      However, I do think you have point stating that some women enjoy being the only woman amongst men. We're tought very early on that the approval of men is important. What's more "approving" than being selected as the only woman?! Almost transcending your own gender.
      I think it's well rooted within our society as a whole, and goes way deeper than just fear. And really, I could go on forever about this haha.

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    2. Spot on Anna. This is EXACTLY what a former female boss of mine was like. She was the lone female on an all male board of a Fortune 500 company and very proud of her stand-out status. Her two children had grown up with a maternity nurse then nanny then boarding school. When I became pregnant she made my life impossible, she treated me terribly and made me feel like I was weak and uncommitted to my role, simply for wanting to attend pregnancy appointments (shock horror!) and take a maternity leave longer than 2 weeks! These women do exist and in many ways they are more dangerous than the stuffy grey male suits who may have preceded them.

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    3. Anna, I agree. That's another possible reason. There are so many and it's often hard to pinpoint the exact one because it could be a mix.
      If it's a boss/employee relationship, it could very well be that they have internalized the system. I work alongside many women though who are on the same level (job-wise) as I am and at the moment, nobody is about to be promoted. So we're all doing the same job but of course, we have different strengths. We could be fantastic as a team (and often are, I'm not saying the majority of my colleagues are catty, most of them are great, in fact) but there are a few who are always fighting for their position. Which is not necessary. They suck up to the male colleagues/bosses and meow at the female ones. I hate it and I don't understand it at all. It doesn't affect my job per se but it makes for a tiresome environment sometimes.

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  17. Yes!!!!! This is legen (wait a minute) dddary!!!

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  18. That was brilliant Caroline! That's one of the reasons I love your blog. XX

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  19. Love your blogg today, but try being Disabled female and over 45. That is a massive hurdle to cross when getting a job.

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  20. Well said Caroline! Posts like this one is the reason you're not only my skincare guru but also a role model. Thanks for standing up for women's rights!

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  21. This is awesome :) In an interview I was asked a) Are you and your boyfriend happy with long distance? b) Are you planning on falling pregnant soon, as we would prefer if if you didn't c) Do not get pregnant.

    My mum would love to read this, forwarding it immediately :) xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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    1. Crazy and super illegal, at least in the states. It's asking for a discrimination lawsuit.

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  22. I also thought she was a class act for mentioning her ex-husbands (thanking them for giving her their children). In an age where ugly divorces are such a source of entertainment "news" and gossip, it's refreshing to see a parent speak lovingly towards an ex-spouse, and can have such a huge impact on a child's self-esteem.

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  23. SUCH an important post, thank you!!!

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  24. What a brilliant post! I trained to be a teacher but have been doing temp work since due to the complete lack of jobs in the Northwest. When I have managed to get an interview, more often than not they seem to choose a man or an older woman. I'm convinced that being a married woman in my late 20s (who 'might have children and want maternity pay') puts me at a disadvantage, Em x
    http://themusingsofem.blogspot.co.uk/

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  25. This is so relevant I work in an engineering based company again male dominated. Last week I found out my male colleague who does the same role earns +£10000 more than me. It's very insulting and unfortunately rife in many industries. I'm planning on fighting it all the way but it's a shame I even have to

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    1. That's ridiculous. I'm amazed. I am also in engineering and, although I acknowledge the glass ceiling, never thought such a gap could happen. It's unacceptable. Does he have the same experience, same educational background and same responsibilities? If all these are equal, I cannot explain why such gap. Is your industry maybe bonus or sales dominated? (ie. your pay is dependent on how much you sell or accomplish?)

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  26. I have never ever commented on a blog before (love yours btw). But I wanted to say thanks for this post. Patricia Arquette's speech - beautiful and important. Your addendum - also beautiful and important. Some of the questions you have been asked are shameful. Women are undervalued and under-promoted in so many professions - the more it is talked about the better. Thanks for using your voice and your platform in such an important way X

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  27. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

    Thank you so much for this post and thank you for being such a great woman and a generous human being, Caroline!

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  28. Caroline,
    I am also a female in a male dominated industry and I agree. I learnt early on to not let people stand on you - men or women. My first boss was a lady. Curiously, I was the youngest and one of only 2 females in her team. The amount of harassment I got off her is, in hindsight, enormous. I didn't know, as I has just started working, but since working for her I decided that will never happen to me again. I wasn't going to let anyone step on me and I would take action sooner if the person I work for displeases me. It's just not worth it.
    Some questions are simply unacceptable. 'This is what we feel you are worth.' - unbelievable. I do think it's the kind of statement that would be more directed to women than to men. How horrible to say that of anyone.
    I am currently hosting the Women's development group of my company, so the comments of your fellow readers will be most interesting.

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  29. Hi Caroline,
    it's not only a pleasure to read you as a 'big' beauty expert, but also as a clever, bright, brilliant woman!

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  30. This is the best thing I've read in such a long time, especially the last line! x

    TR's Thoughts

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  31. Hear hear! Love this Caroline, and Patricia spoke so well, Nailed it. Kathryn :)

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  32. The last line brings tears to my eyes. You are amazing! Bravo☺️

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  33. Excellent post Caroline, thank you for sharing your experiences! The end of Patricia Arquette's speech, and with the shot of Meryl Streep applauding vigorously, actually brought a lump in my throat, for no reason other than that they, and you, care. It shouldn't touch me and make me feel grateful that successful people talk/care about what happens to those still struggling their way up, but it does. Thank you for caring about gender equality and wanting to help other women, and thank you for writing about it.

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  34. Caroline, you made me cry! Good crying though.

    With much admiration,
    Sarah
    xxx

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  35. you are entriely right Caroline, and the saddest part of all is that often, and in my case mostly, it is women who tend to forget how difficult it was for them... once you are visibly pregnant you are treated as if you do not have brains anymore and "oh we cannot count on you - you are pregnant". talk about equality and all that in a respected international institution with written rules on anti discrimination...

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  36. From the heart. And "always, always, pull yourself up with one hand - but leave a hand free for your sister", I could hug you!

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  37. Preach it Caroline! By all means pull oneself up, but don't forget your sisters who could use your help!

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  38. Thank you! I really appreciate your words, and this is one of the reasons because I love your blog.

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  39. Well said Caroline! Right there with you x

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  40. I have loved reading your posts, transforming my skin with your amazing, frank and honest advice. BUT this is your best post yet. Along with Patricia A, you are inspirational. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your knowledge with all of us!

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  41. Hi Caroline

    I've learned so much by reading your blog, your advice has really helped my skin issues. I agree with what you say 100%. I'd like to recommend two books to you as a way of saying thanks for the help, both of them are for you and one of them for Ava. I don't know the authors nor am I affiliated to them or their publishers in any way. Simply after reading your post here, and the topics you address I think you might enjoy reading them.The first one is Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit, I think the title is self-explanatory. The second book is a novel, a dystopian YA book called Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill. This is the Handmaid's Tale for Ava's generation. It entirely focuses on body image, the beauty industry to a degree, and how women are pressured to look a certain way for men who control them. It has lots of present day cultural reference that You/ Ava would get but strong sexual language in places, hence why I suggest you read first.

    Never change, Caroline. And never apologise on this blog for not being around much or updating with posts when you are busy. Never apologise for busy. Busy is brilliant. Busy pays the bills.

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  42. YES! I was absolutely delighted to hear Patricia Arquette's speech, and this blog post, too, is brilliant. I'm 21 and just beginning to start working in a largely male dominated industry, and I have already been told countless times to my face how much more difficult it is going to be for me since I'm a girl. The acceptance speech and this blog post are so important, and it's a subject we need to keep talking about.

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  43. Caroline, you are the best role model on the internet for all women young and old xxx

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  44. amen ! I love you Caroline... and I must say,,, this is the time I need those words the most... when I know that doesnt matter how much you studied..how posh your job is and how much you earn...if you have children it is usually complicated especially when your male boss always want you to put work first then family...that is why I think I should leave architecture and do something I love and it is not going to interrupt my family ... etc...thank you for being honest

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  45. Amen and DAMN RIGHT! The way I have been treated in my career is appalling. The way I've been treated for being 35 and childless, equally appalling. I'm sick of making so much less than men when I do so much more and always have the better numbers, quotas, or customer satisfaction surveys at any job I've ever worked. So many women who aren't "just doing what they are told" have this problem. When I took the time to teach overseas people actually told me they were glad I embraced a more feminine role. I was so mad I could have spit. I also was harassed by my female boss anytime I came to work without makeup in a non-customer facing role. WTF! This world is backwards. For what it's worth, I think you are worth all the things :)

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    1. It's all about the 'not doing as you're told'. Being 38, childless, and having the gall to prioritise a life of my own outside of work is currently going down like a cup of cold sick...

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  46. I love you 1 million times. I've had some doozies, too. Being ignored & interrupted by male colleagues, then being sent on an assertiveness course when I raised it as an issue ("You need to look at why people feel they can talk over you, Ottilie"). Having a director announce his regret – to a room full of people I was about to lead in a workshop – at how my male colleague wouldn't be heading things up and they'd have to make do with me. And having a (woman) beauty owner/entrepreneur treat me like such garbage I developed a stomach ulcer, paving her way to more success over the wreckage of the women putting their hearts and souls on the line for her. The RAGE I felt for a long time... But one of my proudest moments was being the *sole* person prepared to back a colleague in a gender discrimination case, which she convincingly won. To stand up with her, and not be cowed into complicity, was one of the most empowering things I've ever done.

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  47. Thanks for posting the video of the speech. The last sentence of your post gave me chills. thank you for all that you do.

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  48. I love this, it's so important that you use this platform you've created to speak out like this and I truly admire you for it. I know you don't need to be told, but through and through you own up to who you are and I am proud to be a fan of your work. Thank you.

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  49. As a makeup artist, I have continually been passed up for positions in favor of less talented gay males. The older men promote their younger counterparts; why is it that the retail makeup staffs are nearly all women but the regional artists and trainers usually male?? I have actually heard female bosses spot guys from across the dept and say "oooh, why isn't he working with us at XXX." Customers will actually say "I want to wait for that cute guy" as if being sassy is a requirement for talent. The media constantly promotes these men as style gods that women should listen to, so no wonder women get the idea. Of course, you can't say anything or you will be accused of homophobia. It is so frustrating.

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  50. Amen.

    Our grandmothers where some of the first, our mothers came after them...so many women before us and yet, in the 21st century, women's civil rights are still an issue. Harassment, glass ceiling, inequity in pay, dictating to us how we should manage our bodies, and the list goes on and on. Shame. We need to stand up, speak up, and definitely help a sister out.

    Thank you for this. One of the best posts yet (and there are many great ones - thanks to you, my skin is flourishing). Keep on, Caroline. Keep on.

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  51. I stood up so fast to applaud this that I almost knocked my laptop to the floor. Well said, Caroline! Educating children and young adults on equality needs to be one of our top priorities. Our girls and young women must be taught to support each other, not see each other as competitors.

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  52. I am giving you Meryl Streep-style support for this post! So well expressed and fundamentally brilliant! Could not agree more. Thank you!

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  53. I don't normally comment Caroline although I read your blog everyday and have followed plenty of your advice. I wanted to say this post is brilliant. It really struck a chord with me, especially your list of questions you've been asked along way.

    The WORST thing that ever got to me by my middle aged, white, male boss was when I'd had a miscarriage at 13 weeks (he'd already known I was pregnant for a few weeks as I had hyperemesis which was so bad I had to be signed off work for a few weeks). As I tearfully told him what had happened (my female cow of an hr manager actually made me come into the office and tell him face to face why I would be off work) he simply said to me "well you didn't want to have a baby yet anyway did you?" (Baby was unplanned but very much wanted). APPALLING.

    Then when I was pregnant with my son I again had hyperemesis so bad I had to be hospitalised and the doctor signed me off work for a month. This didn't go down well at all, I was put under constant pressure to come back to work, there was no support. When I did get back to work (sooner than either I or the doctor thought I should) I was still vomiting every half an hour. The same hr manager from before (a fellow sister) told me if I wanted to keep my job ("off the record, as a friend" - she was no friend of mine) then I should "pull myself together. You're pregnant not ill or disabled". I was actually very ill, with a pregnancy related condition which they are not allowed to discriminate you for. I should have tribunaled their asses.

    Anyway, thanks so much for this post, loving your work sister. xx

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  54. What a wonderful post. Everything you said resonated and it really does need to change. I came across this so often in my work (PR) at the hands of (mainly female) bosses that I left the industry to work for myself. One of the clinchers was, when pregnant with my second child, being made to sit in a 4 hour meeting during the height of the summer, swathed in jumpers and a myriad of scarves, behind lots of files, so the client couldn't see that I was pregnant. I was asked not to stand up when the client walked into the room, or left the room. So it was fine to be seen as rude, I just couldn't be seen to be pregnant! Crazy!

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  55. Amen to that sister!

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  56. Jesus wept ladies, some of the stories here are horrific! I thought I had it bad when I returned from maternity leave to be blamed for my departments lack of performance while I was off (they had completely underestimated the amount of back ground support i provided and insisted that there was no need to hire a temp to cover my role while I was off)

    I have also (always jokingly with a serious undercurrent) been asked / told not to have another child because it would impact on my department.

    Caroline,

    When I grow up I want to be you! You're an inspiration and amazing. Thank you.

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  57. This! On a t-shirt

    Whatever your colour, religion, sexual orientation, educational background, political standing or personal history, know your worth, don't have it judged for you by someone else.

    Big t-shirt, but still!

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  58. Really great post, its sad this still needs to be tackled but at least we now have such a stronger outreach because of blogs and social media. xxx

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  59. This is one of the many reasons I love you Lady Hirons! As a woman who works in the media and specialises in tech, I've spent years fending off physical advances from middle aged managers and being referred to in meetings with clients as 'the eye candy' before the carried on introducing the rest of their (male) buddies. One manager was furious that I didn't want to sleep with him and did his utmost to get me fired. He also tried to get my boyfriend fired from a related company as he told other colleagues I'd have no option but to 'give in' if I was single. Years of this almost broke my spirit but focusing on standing up for younger colleagues and making sure I don't look away like others do made me realise I can take back power. Now in a senior position, I make sure no one ever tries this crap with me or my team. Enough.

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  60. You are perfect Caroline. While I'm not really working right now (I have a bursary for my study) this reminds me a lot of my mum's situation. She is, don't get me wrong, very well paid, but considering she is one of - if not THE - leading name in her field in the UK, with over 30 years of experience on that and 40+ in the industry (iirc) she isn't paid as much as many of her male coworkers. Especially after the company she worked for moved from a family owned business to a corporate owned one. While some of it may, as she says, be because she doesn't have managerial qualifications (because real world managerial experience of double the years than the other managers have been out of uni counts for nought) I don't doubt a good portion is down to her sex. It sucks, but she's too nice to really speak out.

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  61. Thank you Caroline..One of the best post ever.."Pull yourself up with one hand but leave a hand free for your sister"
    What a finish...

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  62. Thanks for sharing your experiences, such an important issue to adress!

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  63. I think the government has a huge role to play in equality. In Sweden, where I am from, childcare can never cost more that about €200 a month regardless of the number of kids you have and you get 15 months parental leave (not maternity leave -parental, 4 months of which is exclusively for the dad). Childcare is subsidized, public, open long hours, open in the summer and good quality. With that there's no financial implications of having kids, there's no problem with working and having kids. Sure, you still don't want to work a lot of overtime because you want to see your kids but I think Sweden is one of the most equal countries int he world because of this. It can't be left to corporations to take this responsibility. They won't. The government needs to step in. And we chose our governments.

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  64. You are a Queen! So much respect for you!

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  65. I'm coming late to the party on this one, but hallefrickenlujah for that post!

    It's disgraceful what certain employers think they can still get away with and the way they speak at - not to, failing to lift their heads from whatever they're doing - their staff. I see it time and again with my management colleagues.

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