I'm lucky enough to have grown up in a world where I have experienced very little sexism. My parents are incredibly liberal and I was encouraged to play football, surf, get dirty and play with the boys.
My sister and I were treated no differently to my brother and I had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to play with - not Barbies. Because of this I can vividly remember my first brush with sexism when I was about eight and I was told I wasn't allowed to go to the school football club - because it was for the boys.
The eight-year-old me was genuinely confused and furious. At least three of my friends and I were easily as good as some of the boys and we wanted to be able to play football.
So we decided to stage a protest. The girls and I, like a line of mini suffragettes, sat cross-legged across the playground at lunch time, cleverly positioned along the halfway line of the football pitch. We then began chanting "we shall not be moved" much to the bemusement of the dinner ladies and the boys whose game we were spoiling. And we didn't move, a couple of the girls even took a soggy blackened sponge football to the face - but we wouldn't move.
The headmaster eventually appeared demanding to know what was going on. We outlined our terms - to be included in the football club or he could expect us to be protesting every lunch time.
I was lucky enough not to experience any sexism of note again until I became a sports reporter. Apparently some of the old guard don't like a woman reporting on rugby. I ignored them, a year later they were used to me and some I think even half liked me come the end.
Now as an editor and the first female editor North Devon has seen, sadly, my old friend sexism has reared his head again at times with some people in the community. I personally always challenge it, I think we have a duty as professional women to stamp out casual sexism at every opportunity, otherwise it will continue to be the norm.
I am lucky I work for a company like Northcliffe who celebrate women. At Cornwall and Devon Media, Northcliffe's regional arm in the Westcountry, we have three female editors and one male across our titles. I recently attended a course for editors in-group and the room was a 50/50 split of men and women. Unfortunately this equality is not reflected across all professions but we are getting there.
Awards like the Women of the Future Awards in association with Shell UK are vital in raising the profile of young professional women and will hopefully in turn provide role models for the next generation coming through, who, with any luck, won't suffer because of their sex at all.
It is imperative to celebrate professional women and their achievements, to help build a network and make women at the top the norm - not the novelty.
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