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Unconscious bias or plain sexism?

Coming from a ringing family, I've sat in ringing rooms surrounded by both "uncles and aunties" as long as I can remember. Our band
was probably 60/40 men and women, with the women being amongst the best in their striking and method ringing, but they were never encouraged or invited to move round the circle beyond bells weighing about 10cwt. I learned to ring tower bells as soon as I could aged 8, progressed quickly and of course was limited by physical strength initially, but that approach never changed as I grew to adulthood. Boys of my own age, despite poorer technique, were actively encouraged to move round to the back end and given much praise when they did so.

I actively tried to do something about that as I moved away, catching hold further round when circumstances allowed (after checking that was OK with the ringing masters first), but didn't meet much encouragement until I joined a band where I was amongst the most experienced.

45 years later I still meet different expectations when my husband and I walk into a tower as visitors. He is invited to call touches, asked if he's in charge at his home tower and of course offered the tenor immediately, before they've any idea of his ability. They are lucky that he's an excellent ringer and he tries to include me in things as much as he can, but that's awkward for him too. He's invited to "just catch hold" and I'm placed (a practice I salute for quality control but expect to apply to everyone). Even towers where I've been a member in the past overlook me and other women in their hurry to place backenders before seeking bodies to "fill in". That phrase speaks volumes about how much we are valued in the team.

This is magnified at towers with heavier peals of bells, as my home towers have all been, so I hope I have had more exposure to it than other women. I've become angrier and angrier about it as I've got older so speak up when I feel comfortable doing so, but I hugely resent the fact that I have to actively remind those running the ringing that I'm there too and might welcome the opportunity. It's also not something that I want to have to do as a visitor in someone else's tower.

Of course much of this can be viewed as a lack of skill on the part of whoever is doing the difficult job of running the ringing rather than as a gender issue, but in my experience, the impact is magnified for women.