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'You can be anything you want to be’

Jayne Saul-Paterson
Jayne Saul-Paterson

In her first blog for Hutton&co, Jayne Saul-Paterson shares something of her past and reveals something of her passions in the process. Feel free to leave a comment via the box at the end if you relate to her piece or have your own wisdom to share.

My Mum used to say to me as a child ‘You can be anything you want to be’.  As a message it encapsulates her desire for me to realise my ambitions and to be confident in my abilities. 

On Renew You, the one day women’s personal development course that I run, we look at messages just like this that we have taken on board over the years and just like incoming emails some are great to receive and others are spam. Mum was giving me a message worth holding onto – I won’t mention here some of the spam messages I also received from her which I have been slowing ditching over the years! It was particularly impressive really as she grew up in the 50’s where the career options for women were decidedly limited and her Mum might have said more realistically to her as a child ‘ You can be anything you want to be as long as it’s some kind of secretary’! 

Thankfully, gender equality has come a long way since then and women’s career choices are considerably wider.  Even in traditionally male-orientated areas like science and engineering, there have been active campaigns and associations set up to ensure the advancement of women in these fields.  As women, we are now protected by equal pay and sex discrimination laws and we have the rights to paid maternity leave and none of these were in place when my mother grew up.  However despite the positive strides we have taken, there are still many causes for concern and right now gender inequality is still a key issue affecting women in the workplace. 

Women are ‘underused, underpromoted and underpaid’ at work, so said a recent headline in the press reporting on recent comments made by Dr Tom Schuller of the Institute of Education. Research on gender inequality in the workplace has been prolific across the world in recent years and when you read statistics like ‘Women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, earn 10% of the income and own 1% of the property’ it more than endorses why these issues need to be addressed on a global scale.  In the UK alone,  ‘Women working full-time earn 16% less than men, and two thirds of low paid workers are women’.

So why is this the case, well according to the same news story which described the findings of a recent piece of research  ‘Women are held back by a lack of confidence and discrimination’.  So the way forward for women in the workplace, will involve fundamental organisational and culture change as well as women developing their self-belief and confidence and really holding onto the belief in their own capabilities. So maybe Mum was right after all ‘ You can be anything you want to be’, given the current climate, definitely a message us women need to hold onto! 

Jayne Saul-Paterson is a new Associate for Hutton&co and she brings a wealth of coaching and careers experience to our team. Check out Jayne's latest Renew course via our Events page