Why I’m proud to be in a Lady Gang

This week at work, a senior member of staff sent a very ill advised email to the whole company. I won’t go into the details but the title of the email was Womens’ Weak and included such highlights as lamenting about our ‘genetic fate‘, telling us to do the washing up, and signing off as ‘Mr Feminist.‘ Needless to say, the women of the office were not impressed. Though not too many of the men seemed to have strong feelings, other than that we couldn’t ‘take a joke.

We had a choice, would we sit quietly, secretly WhatsApping each other furiously (in all senses) about the poor judgement shown, or would we make our voices heard?

I’m not one for sitting quietly, especially during this lent period. And most certainly not in the week of International Womens’ Day. So we got angry, and we used our skills and our voices.

We had a choice, would we sit quietly, secretly WhatsApping each other furiously (in all senses) about the poor judgement shown, or would we make our voices heard?

We pulled together a video and a fundraising campaign (please donate if you can). We went out and we bought t-shirts and fabric paint, and we formed a Lady Gang. We became a  visible show of feminists in the office. Our message was clear: no one was going to belittle or undermine us, not on our watch. We are talented , we are quick and responsive, and we’re not putting up with any of that shit, thank you.

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As the week went on, the lady gang got more recruits, which was great. Less great was more and more people (usually men) felt inclined to tell us we were ‘wasting our time‘, ‘showing ourselves up‘, or that we should ‘just learn to take a joke.’

We are talented , we are quick and responsive, and we’re not putting up with any of that shit, thank you.

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So we took action again. Grass roots is one thing – but when that’s not working you need to work within the systems, and make the systems work for you. So we called a meeting with HR, not to talk about the initial email, or the person who sent it, but to go over the can of worms it opened up. And it seems to have worked, in a small incremental way. They have agreed to set up compulsory training for managers, and to intensify their internal diversity and inclusivity efforts, and to put more budget behind it.

So we got angry, and we used our skills and our voices. 

I’m so proud of the wonderful women and men in our Lady Gang – for their quick action and willingness to speak out for what they believe in. For knowing what’s a joke, and what’s worth making a fuss and taking a stand over.

We have to stand up. When we see something wrong, we have to say something. If we don’t things will never get better, people will never learn, and we’ll never make the progress that’s so essential if we’re going to survive and thrive.

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