Break the silence: It's Time for Men and Women to Speak Out Against Gender Bias
- A few weeks ago, a video caught my eye on LinkedIn. The poster labelled it as "funny”. The ad featured a man in a lab conducting a quality test on a car, using a handbag to hit the vehicle and kicking its tires in frustration. Later, a woman is shown riding in the car while a man is driving. She appears highly agitated; she gets out of the car to slam the door and kick the front wheel. I couldn't believe the poster found this ad amusing, so I offered my view on its inappropriate nature. What surprised me, even more, was the number of men and women who failed to see the problem.
- A few months ago, I met with a client in their office, where they were hosting colleagues from New York. During the meeting, I was introduced to a fellow employee who said something that caught me entirely off guard. He exclaimed, "Oh, I saw you before, and I thought you must be one of the American chicks." It's disheartening that many men use this kind of language, but what made matters worse was that this individual seemed utterly unaware that his comment was inappropriate.
- Years ago, I was presenting our findings and achievements in a boardroom. When I finished, one of my colleagues from overseas shouted: Can I have your telephone number? Everyone in the room erupted in laughter. Everyone thought it was funny, including the women sitting at the table. For me, he had snatched away the opportunity for me to shine as a professional and derailed any potential conversation about my team's hard work and achievements.
Sexism comes in many forms, and unfortunately, examples of it are all too common. But the point I want to stress here is that awareness is key. We need to speak up when we witness such behaviors. Looking back, I regret not telling that client's employee that chickens belong in the farm, not in an office and that his comment was inappropriate and offensive. I wish I had reminded my colleague that the board room is not the place to ask for someone's phone number. And I wish I had pointed out that advertising that portrays women as hysterical and weak perpetuates damaging stereotypes. It's not funny; it's ignorant.
It's time for both men and women to speak out against gender bias. We need to raise more awareness and push for change.
In case you want to know how gender bias can harm mothers, check out this article: