MAKE TIME FOR GENDER
Updated: Mar 20, 2019
Do you care about gender equity? Do you want to live in a gender equitable world, where your gender does not determine your opportunities and advancement in life?
If that's the case, let me ask you this: how much time do you actually spend thinking, researching, reflecting, and acting to achieve gender equity?
Throughout my years of being a gender equity champion and being a young woman in engineering, I have realised that not everyone eats, sleeps, and breaths gender equity (or inequity, as it currently stands in our society). However, with every organisation spruiking their gender and diversity & inclusion greatness, it’s about time that gender equity appears on people's radars a little more often than once a year on International Women's Day.
It might seem like a big ask, but could you set aside 1-2 hours a week to think, research, reflect and act on gender equity? What if we all did? Perhaps we would see gender parity be achieved quicker than in 170 years' time. Buy yourself a coffee, and maybe one for your colleague, and chat about gender. Not just women, but all genders (toxic masculinity, or the gender unicorn, anyone?). Trust me, it's all related. The more we talk, read, reflect, and do, the bigger the difference we will have.
There is significant value in setting aside a couple of hours each week to explore serious issues like gender equity: people have a chance to ask those unasked questions (Do we even need diversity? Can we really make every job flexible? How do I just get the best person for the job?), they can learn a few new concepts (survivor bias, designing bias out of selection processes), and can some new connections with others that will hopefully turn into collaborations.
However, we all get fatigued when this space is only created through after-hours events. And I know all too well the reality of competing priorities while you're at work. So, for those of you in decision-making roles, I dare you to be bold. Be bold, brave, and commit to change: I propose that organisations that are serious about gender equity will actually carve out time for their employees to spend working on the issue. This is not something only CEOs should do, and it is not something that only women should worry about.
If your organisation is spruiking their gender and diversity & inclusion greatness, it’s about time that gender equity appears on people's radars more often - even, on a regular basis. Committing to change means providing a job code and investment for people to spend on gender equity (and diversity & inclusion) projects. It means hiring the professionals to facilitate discussions so people can productively engage with the issues, learn, and voice their concerns in a safe space. It means providing continuous development opportunities to change their everyday behaviour that aren't just unconscious bias training (whilst you, as a decision maker, provide bias-free and equitable systems and processes that shape the whole organisation).
If you aren’t in the position to make structural change, you can always drive local cultural change. Start with just the simple act of coffee and a chat about gender equity with one or more of your colleagues. Make the time. The more we talk, read, reflect, and do, the bigger the difference we will have.
For everyone off to their first coffee & gender chat, before you ask the next woman you see to explain it to you, save her the emotional labour or the expectation of being a gender expert by first checking out the rest of The Fortem Project, as well as these resources, (to just name a few):