Gender Equality

“Many women do not recognize themselves as discriminated against; no better proof could be found of the totality of their conditioning” - Kate Millet

I was 23 before it occurred to me to ask whether modern Irish society is gendered.  Having got married at the tender age of 22 (for reasons best explained elsewhere), I had to make enquiries with the tax office during my first Irish job, I was informed that they did not have an 'Anna Visser' in their system and my PPS number brought up another name... I explained that there was no such person as 'Anna Gillanders' as I had not changed my name when I got married, the nonchalant reply came "oh, we automatically update your records".  Ahem?! 

When I made further enquiries it did transpire that this was not Revenue Commissioner policy, and I received a thoughtful and well crafted apology from the Revenue Commissioner herself.  You can change law and policy, but mindset and instinct is a whole other ball game.

Since having my two children, I have come to ask myself whether shared maternity/paternity leave, as in the Scandinavian model, is not one of the most important policy decisions which we could take to overcome not only gender discrimination, but the web of deep-seated attitudes and assumptions about the roles of women and men that pervade our society.

Me? A Feminist? Well I guess so, though I am pretty embarrassed to admit that if you had asked me ten years ago, this young female politics student probably would not have known how to answer that question.