It’s time to shift the balance
The last speech from Patricia Arquette in the Oscars ceremony showed how, more than ever, the conversation on gender equality is reaching a momentum on an international level.
After a strong push from the feminist movement in the seventies, a common misconception today is that the situation is globally OK and that the fight is over.
But discrepancies and stereotypes are still very much present, all the more so that we consider the situation as resolved.
You can’t be what you can’t see
During our last diversity workshop, we spent the day with a diverse group of men and women from different ages and geographical origins, deconstructing the gender roles that we have been socialized in.
Men were sharing how they felt expected to initiate seduction or cover the expenses and how they could be excluded from caregiving.
Women explained how they would be catcalled in the street on a regular basis, how their parents expected them to « behave properly » and take their part in household chores from early age.
A fun media exercise consisted in creating a massive collage of male and female representations in men’s and women’s magazines. The final image speaks for itself (men on the left, women on the right):
We even headcounted the illustrations of Spanish newspapers: in El Pais or La Vanguardia, men’s pictures outnumbered women’s by 5 to 1.
Diversity helps the bottom line
International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde has spoken about the need for countries to increase the female labour supply.
“In a world in search of growth, women will help find it.”
According to the IMF, having as many women in the labor force as men could boost economic growth by 5% in the United States, 9% in Japan and 34% in Egypt.
Different campaigns like Lean in, Ban Bossy or HeforShe are bringing this conversation to the forefront, at least in the US.
On the corporate side, we watched different new ads from Pantene, Always or Dove who understood that challenging gender stereotypes could be very profitable for their brand, when women represent 85% of consumers purchases.
And we shared solutions to everyday sexism, like Harassmap geolocalizing in real time sexual harassment, or Goldie Blox building toys for future women engineers.
It’s sexy to be a feminist
We especially deconstructed the taboo around the word “feminist”.
When asked, many people (men and women) defend themselves from ever being called a feminist, given the negative connotation of the word.
Yet, when we come to the real definition (Someone who believes in the social, political and economic equality of sexes), many of the participants finally recognize themselves to be one…
It’s time to master the narrative, it’s time to acknowledge the fact that inequalities are still there and that we all have a role to play about them, would it be in the language we use, in the way we educate our children or how we choose the speakers for our next conference.
And that’s where all the participants took concrete commitments for their everyday lives.
Because, as Emma Watson reminded us in her famous UN speech, « If not me, who ? If not now, when ? »Uncategorized