See if you can figure out what's wrong in these examples:
An enclosure in a package of materials for a Virginia bankers' convention that begins, "Mr. Banker . . . Do not open . . . Please take it to your wife."
An association convention schedule that sets men's tennis tournaments for after-work sessions but schedules women's events during the work sessions.
A speaker who loosens up a local business audience with a long stream of naked-lady jokes.
A conversation with a woman at a convention that begins with asking who her husband is.
If you guessed that the examples suggest women have no place at area business associations as working business executives, you are correct -- and several steps ahead of some of the the people who arrange and attend local meetings.
While you might not expect to find the cutting edge of the movement for equal rights for women at these annual meetings, you resaonably might expect more acknowledgement of the fact that women are a growing part of the business community.
The examples -- gathered by observers from a number of recent area business events -- aren't the worst blows ever delivered to working women. Nor is the question of equal rights at annual business meetings -- where the hardest job may be setting up the tennis tournament -- the most pressing issue facing women. The examples also are not meant to suggest that sex discrimination is rampant in the Washington business community or confined to it.
In fact, one of the worst examples to surface from a series of recent meetings was a Texas banking consultant who demonstrated a talk about whether the recession would be V-shaped or U-shaped with a photo of cleavage.
Washington-area business women generally don't complain of slights or a lack of acceptance among their male peers. "I have been very well accepted by the banking community in D.C.," said Emily Womach of Women's National Bank of D.C. "All the banking organizations that I belong to have been very helpful."
Eve Grover of First Women's Bank of Maryland attended the Maryland Bankers Association meeting in Bermuda recently with her husband. "We were inundated with invitations," she said. "I did not find they viewed me any differently than any other men.
Somehow I really felt a part of it," she said.
"Of course men do have their little private circles, and as a woman I have to more or less include myself into that," she added.
Grover said she believes her presence at these meetings over the years, may have made male colleagues more careful about not giving offense. About three years ago, she recalled, when she attended a banking conference in Phoenix, a hotel maitre d' tried to keep her and another woman out of the bankers' breakfast meeting because they were women.
The issue of how women are treated at business conventions is probably most pertinent to women who attend as business officials. But it is important to wives of businessmen as well. There are wives who object to being identified on name tags as Mrs. John Banker. And there are wives who would rather listen to economic forecasts than attend a tea party or fashion show.
At the International Monetary Conference in New Orleans last week, for instance, bankers' wives -- including Kathryn Wriston, wife of the chairman of Citibank, and Helen Vogel, wife of the chairman of the National Bank of North America -- lobbied for admittance to business sessions and won.
Clearly things have improved substantially over the years, but the examples suggest that when the boys are off on these outings relaxing, they should remember that some of them are girls.