Women who inflate small incidents can hinder progress
Published 14/09/2015 | 02:30
When I was a young woman, many doors were closed to the female sex, professionally and socially. In London, a woman couldn't visit a hotel bar on her own, the supposition being that a lone female was a prostitute plying for trade. In the newspaper industry, female reporters couldn't do a night shift: it was assumed that women were more "vulnerable", even though some of the toughest characters I encountered were seasoned women reporters.
Women were not acceptable at any senior level in male sports, finance or the unions and were rare in the law, though you always had a sprinkling of clever "Portias". And women were barred from all-male clubs, both at the posh end of the social spectrum and in working men's clubs, where jokes were so often about the malignity of mothers-in-law, in the style of Bernard Manning.
When I first asked why the female sex was disbarred from so many areas, I was told: "Women mean trouble." This seemed to cover a range of vague accusations: women would ask for special treatment, women would need more lavatories, women would "get themselves" pregnant, women would "take offence" too easily, women would accuse men of rape or sexual molestation and you couldn't make a dirty joke in front of the ladies. Such views were advanced even though evidence showed that women as professionals were often more conscientious than men.