Good afternoon all.
Sorry to have been away, but I am trying, now, to be back on BP, so will hope, also, to return to this thread as I come across things of interest. This has always been an interesting subject in our house, or at least one where we note with interest, together, when current affairs focus on it - my wife and I met at University, and on graduation each joined a graduate training scheme (UK Civil Service for me, private sector for Mrs Templar). We find the whole subject interesting, partly because it is simply interesting (and very important!), but also because our lives have strayed across many of the issue and prejudices present in society. However we do have a (mostly) positive experience of negotiating our way through the various aspects of discrimination between the sexes. When we first started our career jobs (in 1996), there was only a pay difference of just over £1000 between us (I earned £16,707 initially, Mrs Templar £18,400), and we were each on a two year graduate scheme within our respective employers, and followed a similar pace of progression (in terms of seniority) over the next decade - we had both progressed into management roles, and were moving towards the top of our chosen specialisms. I left to work for myself and look after our children after 11 years, in part because the T&Cs were so strong for my wife’s work (a year’s full-pay maternity leave for her, as against two weeks for me, wildly better pension, more paid leave, plus the core salary had jumped way beyond what the Civil Service could pay me - Mrs Templar’s last salary while I was still working for HMG was a third of my salary, and I was the equivalent of a Colonel in the British Army), and Mrs Templar has continued with the same employer, albeit now working largely from home, with two days per fortnight either in London or overseas. We’re both very happy with the decisions we have taken overall, although we each have tactical frustrations - I walk into a dinner party and have people think that I have no career, must have failed at my old career, and ‘just’ look after children, while Mrs Templar has people openly wonder how she could work rather than care for the kids (they’re now all in full time school, and working from home we eat as a six for both breakfast and tea most days, but people still judge).
So I know all about cracking into groups aimed at ‘mums’, about people approaching me in the supermarket when my child is crying and saying ‘don’t worry, mummy will be here soon’ (and these are strangers!), and my wife knows about missing school Assemblies (although she is a school governor) and daytime performances, but our take is this:
It works for us, we’re very happy, we know that had I remained in my old profession we would not have been able to move away from London, and would not, have been able to have as many kids (we have four - 5, 8, 11 & 13), our earnings would be well down (my wife now makes substantial money, plus an annual bonus, plus my trading income moved well beyond what I made working for HMG some years ago, plus leaving has afforded me the opportunity to dabble in property), plus our gang of six spend an awful lot of time together, more than any other family we know, we are a real unit, with a lovely lifestyle - we have a very large period country house, a number of rental properties, and a second home in Portugal (we’re off there on Sunday!), detached with its own pool, I trade from there for one month each year and pay for the trip while I’m on it.
In 2007 it was a very bold decision we took, against the wishes of both of our families, and with much trepidation. Nearly 11 years on, and history has entirely vindicated it, on all levels, from family to career to lifestyle to money, all of it.
My wife has been very lucky in never encountering any serious gender discrimination and now having reached senior management. I encounter more day-to-day discrimination (most people don’t believe that trading is a real job, so presumably just assume that my wife’s salary is double what it is, or that we’re drug dealers!), but it’s fine Our choices work for us, our kids are being raised in a very balanced way, with no preconceived ideas on gender split (we have three boys and a girl), so for us thank goodness it all worked out. I’m 43, so delighted that we took a strong position early, ignored the naysayers (on everything from my resigning from a career to my taking up trading to paying for a course to my wife returning to work after her first maternity leave and many more). But I’m very interested in the issues present in this thread, and hope to join the debate going forwards.
Apologies for the unsolicited potted bio - not trying to start a discussion, but I thought as many of my experiences are relevant to the issues raised here that I might as well mark my return with a positioning post. Feel free to ignore all of it!
If I come across any women among my trading circle I’ll lob them in here.