There have been some interesting posts and blogs this week talking about diversity and how critical it is for the communication industry, well for any industry really. I was transfixed by the conversation on Twitter on Tuesday about regional accents and whether they hold people back in their careers.
I was travelling to Berlin yesterday afternoon and the flight was packed with those travelling on business, for football, and for holidays. What was really obvious was in a packed plane the number of women was in single figures.
I am often travelling on my own and will eat out on my own and I don’t even think about it. But there are some times when being in a minority as a woman is really unsettling.
The key question for me is when does this start to come into our minds? When do we start to think that we can’t move around on our own particularly as a woman?
For me it goes right back to our formative years at primary and then secondary school. The language that is used and the comments that are made can last a lifetime. It is more than 40 years since a teacher told me my handwriting was ‘as bad as a boys’. I remember thinking what does it matter and perhaps that isn’t a bad thing as the boys seemed to get to behave in a way I wanted to.
They were able to climb trees and get dirty. They ran around and got out of breath without worrying about what they looked like. They knew they were going to have the future they wanted with no barriers.
To be honest they had strong northern accents so that may have held them back. Society and particularly the institutions that run it has taken some time to become accepting of accents. As I have said before I am totally comfortable with mine but it has taken time to feel that way.
Perhaps we need to check our language with young children. The images we paint and the moments we create will stay with them for life. We need to empower our young people to encourage them to push themselves forward without barriers.