We start this week after a weekend filled with marching for, amongst other things, ending gender discrimination.
I didn’t march, physically, since I am more than a 1000 miles away from the Women’s March closest to me. Yet, there are many ways we can march for the empowerment of women – beginning with the way we act, respond, the words we use and the choices we make.
So, today, I chose to share some pieces of enriching conversations I’ve had with men who approached me on the topic of gender equality, and the empowerment of women.
How can they ensure women are empowered in their immediate work environment?
Phrases I often heard was –
“It seems like nothing men can do is right. Every effort seems to be interpreted in the wrong way.”
„Which cues are perceived in what way by women? It would help a lot having an open conversation about that, so we’d know how to change what.“
This is something we need to fix. Empowering women shouldn’t be about making all men feel like the receivers of hate and blame. Or at best, resulting in indifference, since all efforts will be, as perceived, interpreted in the wrong way, leaving no solution at hand, but only misunderstandings.
Empowering women in the workplace shouldn’t be about shuffling a wave of hatred towards men, since there are many recognising the need for change and aiming to be part of it.
In fact, it’s been a man who recently landed on our newsfeed with his incredible TED Talk, “What it means to be man enough”, moving us all with his compassion, his honesty, and his call to action.
Empowering women at the workplace is a process, and one which shouldn’t be built on a lack of communication.
So how do we go from here?
A few general rules to keep in mind:
- Women Empowerment is not men- hatred
- Being a feminist isn’t tied to a gender
- Equality includes everyone
And then the work piling up:
Face the stereotypes
This is a topic a lot more complex than equal pay day. Everyone addressing women empowerment with „We now have better part-time options for working moms“ is, excuse the frankness, completely on a wrong path. Family friendly work environments are created for families – in all its forms and meanings. Family friendly work conditions allow both parents to take time for their kids. Part- time schedules are not made for women. They are made for everyone in need of them.
The current generation entering the workforce might be the one more aware of and more eager to address gender discrimination. We grow into a world of Women’s Marches and Times Up, and so will the generations following us. Numerous Instagram pages might have a crucial impact for women with regards to self-love, self-acceptance, courage and confidence. These issues are now much more accessible and more openly addressed, thanks to social media. Instagram offers enough motivational quotes to enter a meeting confidently and to not be afraid to be „bossy“.
Yet, there is a fine line between the virtual and the „real“ world and virtual inspiration still needs to be transformed into real action. We need more women acting on it, and becoming role models for both women and men in their immediate environment. Likewise, we need more men supporting women acting confidently and not according to long existing stereotypes – subvergent, reluctant, depended etc.
We need men who want to actively listen to women’s voices and invite them, actively, to speak up.
Change is overwhelming. When something new comes along, there most definitely come along a lot of question marks, too. Address it. Talk about it. Ask. Debate. Brainstorm. Compromise. Agree. Move forward. Try. Learn. But never stop communicating.
After all, this is not a „women’s thing“ and we don’t believe in stereotypes anyways, dictating that communication should be a skill only women master.
That’s not the way we go.
…regardless of whether you’ve been marching this weekend or not, keep on marching either way. Start by the way you act, respond, the words you use, and the choices you make.
Right now, the rest of the day, and tomorrow again.
A lot of little steps will eventually amount to a big one.