4 Gail Rebuck discusses why women wanted and needed training
I think for the first time for many of these women, myself included, WiP offered courses on negotiation, on managerial skills and, the one I really remember, assertiveness training – an incredible rite of passage in many ways. A lot of the techniques that the convener was suggesting were new to me. I hadn’t really thought about my own assertiveness up until that point. So I do remember it being an important moment, an important learning moment.
And it’s very interesting that of course nowadays you would expect all that training to be delivered to you via your professional network within your company, given that a number of publishers have got bigger with big HR departments. But to be honest, those were the days when there probably wasn’t an HR department in a publisher.
No one was actually getting to the core of what women wanted and needed, which was professional development, partly because, I guess, we were within an environment where most of us had come in as secretaries and the male establishment was very happy keeping us in those roles, whereas we wanted to do more. We felt we could do more, and there was no training on offer, apart from through WiP. So it was an incredibly important part of WiP.
I think that the assertiveness training, and to a certain extent the managerial training, the negotiation training gave the women a confidence that they had a place at the table because until that point we’d felt excluded. Yes, we knew we made an important contribution to publishing – normally at the lower echelons – but this enabled us to look up and think, hey, maybe I can do that too.