This Girl Can? How About This Woman Can?

This Girl Can? How About #thiswomancan?

Listening to the radio this morning I heard a segment about the #thisgirlcan campaign run by Sport England. This campaign has been running for a while now. It is reaching out to women and encouraging them to be more active. Research showed that one of the main reasons that women don’t exercise is that they are worried about judgement and how they look when they do. This campaign aims to combat that and make women feel that they should take part, not worry about the reasons why they might not want to.

It got me thinking about the piece that I first wrote about this campaign when it launched. I scrolled back through the mists of my Medium account and found what I had written. It seems a good time to revisit those words and I’ve included the original post here with a few edits.

I don’t like it when I see blogs or articles written online which criticise. I’m not a big fan of the negative. Mainly just because I don’t believe that there is much in this world that is totally and utterly negative and so for all that stuff in the middle that is just a bit ‘not OK’ maybe we could all exercise some balance?

This is one of the reasons that I don’t tend to write anything about things that I don’t like myself. I think ‘well it’s not my cup of tea, but I’m sure it speaks to someone else.’ Yet there is one thing that has been going around and around in my mind recently and now I want to write about it.

I’m a runner. I’m a woman. And, on the whole, I really like the #thisgirlcan campaign run by Sport England.

Their message is simple: ‘This Girl Can celebrates the women who are doing their thing no matter how they do it.’

And it is a great message. There are so many new runners that come along to our club who think from the start that they aren’t fast enough, can’t run far enough, don’t know what they are doing. When they ask questions about how to ‘become a runner’ I just say — you are a runner.

So where does the message fall down for me? The use of the word ‘girl’. This girl can? Does that apply to me? Not really. I have two kids, I’ve been running since I went to university. When I compete in races I am in the VF35 age category — Veteran Female. Not girl.

The campaign is aimed at girls and women from 14-60. It isn’t just aimed at girls, it is aimed at adults.

I want women to join up for sports, to go out and find something they love doing and ‘just do it.’ Why do we have to do this at the expense of acknowledging that on the one hand we know what we are doing   but on the other hand we are all ‘girls’?

Much of the campaign focuses on women who take their sport seriously, as well as beginners. I can’t help but feel that using the word ‘girl’ to describe grown women who are taking their sport to the next level is somehow diminishing that.

It would just take one more letter on that hashtag. #thiswomancan Why don’t we show girls these women as role models that they can look up to and aspire to be? Aspire to be the person who decides to try kickboxing for the first time, or who is running their 100th marathon? Wouldn’t this be such a great message?  Hey girls, look at these women!

I know a lot of people will say it is just one word. Friends of mine have said this to me. I agree, it is just one word, but it is one word that I’ve not used to describe myself for a long time.

So yes, I’m all in for taking part in sport but for me I’d rather own my age, and my identity as as woman in sport, at the same time as owning my sport.

Freelancing and the Never Ending Salary Discussion

Freelancing and the Never Ending Salary Discussion

I read this article from Independents United about salary transparency with interest. I will fully admit that I have always been someone who never really wanted to talk about salary. I’m nosy enough to want to know what someone else earns but if that means I have to say how much I earn, suddenly I’m not so interested.

However, having just started out as a freelancer, I’m also realising that the luxury of being coy about how much I charge is fast disappearing. When every person you meet wants to know what you do there is a moment at which that interest is going to turn to how much they would have to pay you to do it.

I get it, it is completely natural. As a business owner, especially for startups and SMEs, you are talking to someone you’ve just met about your business and they are talking to you in an engaging and interesting way about what they do and how it could enhance your own work. You’re already thinking ahead: What projects could they work on for us? And, inevitably, how much is this going to cost me?

In the same way that I’ve never wanted to talk to someone about my own salary, at first I really didn’t want to talk about how much I charge. But then as I realised people were curious I also started to learn that how much you charge can be used as another benchmark by people who want to work with you as to the quality of your work and where you sit compared to other people they have spoken to.

When this all started out and I was feeling a little uncomfortable about it I sat down and had a good think about what I wanted to charge. I did my research: What are other people charging? What should I charge? How do other people go about deciding what to charge? I learnt that what you charge and what you earn are two different things and this gave me a chance to really think about what my overheads were where before I just assumed I had none. (Note: you never have no overheads!)

I’ve discovered that telling someone what you charge and negotiating what they are going to pay are also two different things. Salary negotiations for a new job are perfectly natural but when every new piece of work or contract is a small scale salary negotiation you need to decide if there is any room for manoeuvre once you’ve put a price on a project. I don’t think there are hard and fast rules here. Sometimes I negotiate, sometimes I politely say that the price I’ve given is the only price I’ll do it for.

If you look around in your niche you won’t have to look far for to find someone who is happy to disclose what they earn from their work each month. There are many people in social media, bloggers, digital nomads, who are happy to put together and share a monthly report of what they earn and how they’ve earnt it. I find these fascinating. From seeing how people utilise other revenue streams, make passive income, run online mentoring in their niche, it is so much more than the numbers they are sharing.

So I think I’m somewhere in between at the moment. I definitely have a good sense of what I would charge for a project but I’m not quite on board with laying it bare on my blog once a month. Maybe one day, but not right now.

Overall, I think transparency is good. Whether we are talking about money, how we do business, our values, our lives or our families, being as open as we feel we can be is a great way to conduct yourself in any part of your life.