Sadly we live in a world that for too long, has discriminated in the workplace against half of the population based on gender. Things are changing, but the news still carries – and in some cases causes, stories that are mysoginistic. I have never really understood why men feel the need to put down their equals, just because of gender, perhaps it’s is because some are intimidated.
I am blessed to have lots of STRONG independent women in my life, that have excelled in their chosen fields. In fact I would bet, that if I told you each my three children have Masters degrees in the following subjects, you couldn’t tell there gender by qualification alone.
Perhaps if I give you another clue? You may work out which qualification goes with which job, but I still don’t think you will determine gender.
See, if you don’t know them personally you wouldn’t know if they were male or female. Gender bias in the workplace is a social constraint that we need to remove, because it has no basis. If someone wants employment in a specific field and they are qualified, and capable of doing so, there should be no barrier placed in their way.
A further change needs to take place within the workplace. Women (and men) need to feel safe, wherever that may be. Recent news stories suggest that even in our countries Parliament, misogyny and bullying are present. The people we work with deserve respect and fair treatment. They also deserve equal pay. If two people do the same job, for the same number of hours a week they should always take home the same amount of money.
Deep routed bias
Some years ago I read an enlightening book entitled “Invisible Women – Exposing data bias in a world designed for men” by Caroline Criado Perez. It opened my eyes to things I had never considered. We literally live in a world that is designed around the average man, from car seats to counter top heights. Yet even with a bias built into everything around, women succeed.
Unfortunately gender bias is so built into the minds of most of us, we have and continue to make false assumptions. Take these two quotes from the aforementioned book.
In 1839 the composer Clara Schumann wrote in her diary, ‘I once thought that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose – not one has been able to do it, and why should I expect to?’ The tragedy is, Schumann was wrong. Women before her had been able to do it, and they included some of the most successful, prolific and influential composers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It’s just that they didn’t have ‘broad name recognition’, because a woman barely has to die before she is forgotten – or before we consign her work to the gender data gap by attributing it to a man.
In 2016 Andy Murray was informed by a sports reporter that he was ‘the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals’… Murray correctly replied that ‘Venus and Serena have won about four each’
Now I have to say that I am a product of the world I live in, despite my striving to be otherwise. I make mistakes and I am connected to organisations that have not yet made all aspects of their operations equal. But I would like to think of myself as an advocate for change and a voice for women. I have enough faith to believe greater equality is possible. Even if that means men have to step up and raise their own game.
The following picture always makes me think of the inspirational women I know, because of these women and others, change is worth working for.
So what about those Masters degrees and careers ?
Did you guess right ?