This is a great week for gender equality in the workplace, with women breaking through in the highest echelons of sport and magic. Sara Cox became the Rugby Premiership's first female referee on Saturday as she took charge of Harlequins' win against Worcester. Cox was the first female referee to be contracted by the Rugby Football Union in 2016 and has refereed 23 women’s Test matches, run the line in 11 Premiership fixtures and has twice been a television match official, but this was the big one.
She told reporters that players were a little confused about what to call her because the usual custom in rugby is to address the referee as 'sir'. A few did this automatically and then went on to correct themselves. However, Cox said: “It doesn't bother me. I'm still happy for someone to open a line of communication with a respectful word at the start. It's not about gender for me.”
Meanwhile, the Magic Circle has also appointed its first female president this week, Megan Swann. Founded in 1905, The Magic Circle is the world’s most famous magic society and historically did not permit women to join. The society opened its doors to women in 1991 but Swann has made history this week as the first women to hold high office.
Swann is part of a new generation of magicians that uses the art to educate as well as entertain. She uses her skills to talk about climate change and what people can do to help. Swann said: “I generally teach people about environmental issues and how we can help through magic tricks. So I do things on climate change, waste, ocean pollution and deforestation, all through magic. It's a really good communication tool and a really good way of engaging people. It can be quite a depressing topic otherwise.”
It is great to see these two women breaking ground in professions that have historically been male dominated. Hopefully, the news that women hold high office will no longer be news in time, as it will be so commonplace, but until then it is encouraging to see some progress.