Today is International Women’s Day and here at Tamebay we firmly believe in equality and especially for women in business. The Internet itself has been a great leveller giving equal opportunities to all that log on and in particular ecommerce and marketplaces have given every woman the ability to start their own business on the same footing as any other gender. Tamebay itself was founded by Sue and myself (Sue did all of the clever technical stuff).
Over the past decade and a half I’ve had the privilege of meeting many fantastic women in ecommerce. Take eBay for example, it was run by Meg Whitman for a decade and in the UK we have had two female eBay UK country managers – Clare Gilmartin and Tanya Lawler. And of course there are thousands of women in business on eBay running their own businesses, one of the first I ran into was Rachael White of Thingimijigs who built her business, starting in 2004 with just £200 and a computer running from the kitchen table, to become an ‘eBay Millionaire’ turning over in excess of £1,000,000 a year. There have been thousands more like Rachael over the years.
This week, in good news for all British women, a date has been set for the abolition of VAT on sanitary products, Janaury next year. Dubbed the tampon tax, it’s been claimed impossible to abolish whilst the UK was in the EU so it set at the minimum VAT rate of 5%.
Ultimately however, it’s sad to note that in many ways the world is still arranged to be convenient for men, despite paying lip service to equality, and so on this International Women’s Day I want to highlight just one needlessly outdated example. Take for example a service that just about every UK citizen uses – TV Licensing. Their Equality statement starts with “TV Licensing is committed to equality and diversity…” and yet when you go to the form to register the first attribute requested is ‘Title’ and as in so many places on the web it assumes that men are more likely to control the money with the drop down order being ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Miss’, ‘Ms’. It’s not alphabetical order, it’s simply casual sexism that permeates our world.
Whilst I called out TV Licensing (run by the BBC), it’s just one of many sites that include Hotel booking forms and sadly even many ecommerce websites – do they really need to know your sex and marital status to book a hotel room or let you download an ebook? I’m guessing that the drop down menus were originally created by a man in a world where men were most likely to complete forms, but that world has long gone and it’s time forms changed. I look forward to the day when the top option on a form is ‘Miss’, ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’ and whilst you might think this a small thing it’s the insidious little assumptions that it’s a man’s world that need to change. Better yet, if your website has a form ask yourself if you really need to collect ‘Title’ information – does it really matter what sex or marital status your customers are? eBay and Amazon don’t ask for a ‘Title’ when opening an account so why does anyone else?
Moving back to brighter topics, today on International Women’s Day we’d like to thank the many woman who participate on Tamebay either reading, commenting, contributing, supporting us, or who over the years have written for Tamebay. Today we would like to celebrate your achievements and the businesses you run but it’s not just for today, it’s for all 366 days of the year.