Diary of a Wiltshire business woman’s networking experiences

By Anita Jaynes on 29 October, 2014

Here’s a bit of a teaser into the content of our special ‘Wiltshire Women Mean Business’ feature in this month’s TBE magazine. Let’s call it a pause for thought…

Being born in the early 1980s, a baby boomer child with a strong mother in a successful career, feminism wasn’t top of my agenda. I felt that we were living in a fairly equal society in the UK. Although I was by no means unaware of the fight females had for equality in the 1900s with the ‘Votes for Women’ campaign. I remember as a child parading around the lounge with a sash on, singing “Well done! Sister Suffragette” from Mary Poppins. I also recall when being asked by an MP if I was going to vote at the age of about 19 replying, “of course, people died for me to be able to vote”. I don’t think it was the reply they were expecting, but highlights my appreciation of the plight of others.

Throughout most of my career (so far) and jobs whilst studying at university I had always worked in organisations where women were managers. I would suggest this is due to the type of work I was involved in – the media, creative sector and retail – where there is definitely more balance with a higher number of ladies in top positions.

In 2011 I moved roles, still within the media, but for a business publication and began networking throughout Wiltshire and Somerset. I was shocked that at age 28 I was regularly the youngest in the room and one of the only females in attendance. In a meeting of around 50 people there would be only three or four females in the room including myself.  Not being one to be intimidated I would happily talk to any of ‘the suits’ in the room, but I often thought “are they taking me seriously?” or “do they think i’m an alien planted here for breakfast?”.

As a woman in business I feel it is still very much a man’s world once you scratch the surface of what’s really going on and a lot of questions are thrown up once you start deliberating the subject. Do I need to dress a certain way to be respected? Does being attractive and a woman make you more likely to get on than less attractive counterparts? Is it really possible to be a fulfilled business woman, mother and maintain a happy relationship? And, as a single woman who is successful and well respected, how does this affect your chances of meeting a potential suitor? Are men intimidated by this and would they really prefer to come home to a wife or partner with a pie in the oven ready for supper?

All the above questions come to mind when considering this subject and it’s just food for thought. In producing this special ‘Wiltshire Women Mean Business’ feature I wanted to showcase the diversity of women in the county, their abilities, passions and grit and determination to reach their goals. I’m not one to promote ‘women only’ networking and the like as there is no point or need to place yourself in an unrealistic environment to be empowered – us girls just want equality and to be recognised on our own merits.

If you want to feature in this month’s special edition email press@varndev.co.uk OR call: 01793 847966.

Pictured above: TBE publisher Anita Jaynes