"Hello Mr Smith", I begin, "I'm acting for a client who claims she was discriminated against in your chemistry lab".
"Well, luv, it's like this, luv, she couldn't stand the pace, we had to give her a hand, well more than a HAND in several places ha ha if you know what I mean dearie".
I'm not making it up. That was a conversation I had about 2 years ago with a laboratory manager.
It immediately told me that he wasn't taking me seriously BECAUSE I'm a woman. It's a long-established practice - by both the old-school-tie network and by working men - to belittle us, to claim that we're only in "their" world for fun, a quick buck, and to find a man. I find the last most offensive. If, for some reason, I needed to "find" a man, why would I have bothered to get a law degree?
But that's only a minor version of the way women are treated EVERYWHERE. Treated as if we exist to give birth to and bring up strong boys to continue male traditions.
Women raised in many countries don't even have the benefit of 'e.ops' laws to fall back on. THAT makes me cry. To think that there might not be laws on "my side" when it came to wanting equality.
Then there's the "didn't she do well - for a girl?" gang. Some men even say that out loud - and mean it.
I could continue, but it'll sound like another personal crusade - and I don't mean it to. I WANT EVERY WOMAN EVERYWHERE to be recognised as a person equal in organisational skills, mental strength and earnings potential as a man is.
If this WAS a personal crusade I'd go on about being recognised for my driving skills. But it isn't so I'll finish with a wonderful put-down I heard to men thinking we're jealous of their "success".
When I was 22 and in my first legal job, one of the top secretaries I was working with was known to have had a "liaison" with one of the male bosses. When they fell out and she got annoyed about him going to meetings and running her down, he then claimed that she must have penis envy. (Yes that old one.)
To which she announced "why on earth would anyone be jealous of YOUR penis?".
Have things changed in two years?