How does it feel as a woman to walk into a room full of men in a business context?
Is it intimidating, overpowering, frightening or a challenge?
Maybe you just hate the idea altogether and, given the choice, would turn around and head back to the office, home, or anywhere, for that matter?
I’m a bloke. A guy. A ‘geezer’, some might say. And I must confess I'd never even thought about it until the tables were turned on International Women's Day back in March.
I walked into a room of women at a City Hive networking session and suddenly I got some sense of what women in our sector must face - ALL the time.
My observations started as I walked a flight of stairs to the room and was struck by the noise before I had even seen how many people (women) were there. It sounded like hundreds, but in fact there were actually only 47. I know this because I stood at the back and counted the women seated before the speakers: City Hive’s founder Bev Shah and the excellent speaker, Christine Brown-Quinn, or as self-proclaimed, 'The Female Capitalist'.
As I entered the small room I was struck by how freely the women were all chatting away. At the comparable male gathering I’d been to the day before there was a quiet hum of conversation, almost as though it made all the men feel very clever by talking in hushed tones. Or maybe the City Hive women were just more passionate and energetic about the event that was about to take place.
I walked in, feeling grateful for knowing a few of the women there, thanks to my time on Investment Week magazine, because otherwise I might not have known where to start.
I don't think of myself as an unconfident kind of person, as I'm sure many women in financial services don't, but suddenly when you are in a minority the world seems a different place.