If you are a man, you are probably fed up with all this media fuss about equality, gender gap, and unequal pay. Probably you shrug your shoulders and think “What have I done?”.
If you are a woman, I bet you keep on reading the headlines, angrily nodding your head and making that “It’s all so unfair face”.
Well, I would like to say something to both of you and all of us. If you are a man, I am pretty sure that at least once in your life you have judged a woman for… being a woman. Dismissed her opinion because she is just ‘annoying’, or made a comment about her being a softie. If you are a woman, I bet you judge your female colleagues in a much more harsh way than their male counterparts. So let’s rest that part in peace: we are all to blame. The question is if we are willing to do something about it?
The topic definitely does not lack coverage. I know. But what I think is missing from this discussion, is the mention of Unconscious Gender Bias. Not the obvious claims that men are more capable than women, but how we all unconsciously associate certain values and capabilities with certain gender. We still rely on our good-old brain to be running a lot of scanning and connecting facts behind the scenes, without us really acknowledging the process. We report to men more frequently than we do to women, we see in media different authorities informing us about the world, and only in 24% of cases they will have a female face. 3 out of 4 times a man will tell us what is happening in the world with the journalist cap on, whether it good or bad as an expert. We will see male superheroes saving the world and male main characters in children’s movies having adventures. In adverts we constantly see women doing shopping, cleaning, taking care of kids. They are the ones who superheroes save or conquer, they give a very pleasant background to the story driven by the male character. For now, before this really shifts, we have to Consciously see that Bias, resist it and correct if needed.
Think for a moment about a tiny woman to be, who you actually care about: a daughter, a granddaughter, a nice, a cousin, a sister. When you look at that special little person do you think she is less than anyone else? Should she be given less respect or lesser opportunities than anyone else? Now it seems unacceptable, so how come it does become acceptable when she grows up…
There is still awfully a lot to be done by governments and corporations. Things have to change top down, but at the same time we are responsible for the bottom up part. Let’s be conscious that it all starts here in our homes. If we make our daughters believe that being beautiful is the most important thing, by rewarding them with complements on daily basis, they will carry that for the rest of her life. If we show that housework is a female domain, she will subconsciously take that role on her as well, while her brother will feel this is not his responsibility.
I would love to see gender as a symbol of diversity, where we celebrate the fact that we are different. We are not the same and that is the beauty of it. It should never be seen as a weakness or a fault whether you are a man or a woman. But at the same time the female part of the world should not be punished for the fact that we are capable of childbearing. This is what runs the world and is not just employer’s inconvenience. Women are capable of bringing new tiny people to join our society and make it possible for human race to continue. We are not an add on, beautiful to look at with cleaning and cooking capabilities. So look at your daughter, granddaughter, nice, cousin, sister and see her for what she is and what she can be.
Personally I am fighting the battle everyday to see through filters I have grown all my life, restrains that my own upbringing have put on me. I try hard not to be angry and resentful and I fail on daily basis. Buy I want my daughter to be free from it. Even if she has to face external judgement I want her to be strong and confident within, so she can become whoever she wants and pick her own path. Not the one I, or anyone else sees for her. The one that she envisages for herself, the special human being that she is.