Over the last two decades, a woman has held the top political role in Aotearoa New Zealand for eleven of those 20 years. It would be nice to think that we have gender equality, but although it’s getting closer, we are by no means there yet.
Earlier this year, the UN Women National Committee Aotearoa brought together Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and former Prime Minister Helen Clark for a recorded discussion on a number of feminist issues. This is part of their #Trailblazing125 series of advice from prominent Kiwi women in recognition of 125 years of women’s suffrage in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Helen (yes, we refer to our leaders by their first name) has had a big influence on the mindset of many people irrespective of whether or not you agreed with her politics. It was because of her, that people like Jacinda grew up not considering that gender might be a barrier to the top political job in this country.
It seems to me that what is holding women back (in the NZ context) is not the barriers imposed on them by others, but a lack of confidence in their own ability. There is still something in the way women are conditioned by society whereby they are less likely to put themselves forward for a role than is the case for men. Hopefully that attitude is no longer encouraged.
21 Nov, 2018 at 8:56 am
I wonder if it is not so much a confidence thing for women in our society but still the bounds of ‘place’. For example, my wife is the bread winner in our household and as such has the career path. She finds this difficult enough given her love of our four children, let alone looking to take those next steps in her career, advancing into leadership roles, furthering her education etc.
Perhaps, as a society, we are not yet fully geared to allow women the complete freedom to balance work and home lives. Words like ‘juggle’ don’t do any favours.
21 Nov, 2018 at 11:01 am
Perhaps that might come into play once children arrive, but even women without a family are less confident abut seeking roles that might test their ability. I don’t know whether it’s nature or nurture that causes men to be greater risk takers – perhaps a bit of both, but I can recall my days at school where boys were encouraged to test their abilities more than girls. I don’t know if it’s still common, but I can recall both male and female teachers using the phrase “Don’t be a girl!” when a boy was unwilling to try something new.