Is it a Man's World? Gender Inequalty in the Workplace

Is it a Man's World? Gender Inequalty in the Workplace

I was sitting at the boardroom table, the only woman in the room.  I got along really well with the team and admired most of them. 


This job was a huge part of my life, I was so proud to be on the executive team.  I felt proud of my boss, proud that we were in a business that is generally viewed as crooked, and shady, yet we were doing bigger and better things. 


And then it happened. 


I shared an idea I had.  The then CEO looked at me and said, ‘Oh, that’s really cute Katy, but sweetie that’s not the direction we are going’.  Uh, say what?


Now, I’m a pretty tough cookie, and working in the automotive world had encouraged me to grow a thicker skin, but the reality is… I EARNED my spot at that boardroom table, just like the other people did, and yet I didn’t see any of them called ‘Sweetie’.


So, it leads me to question, is it still a man’s world?  Now, please don’t get me wrong.  I love men.  In fact, I’m married to a pretty incredible one, and I also have one who happens to be my son.  I was also raised by a wonderful man.  In fact, as a young girl I remember hearing my father often say, ‘We need more women to take on important roles in this world.’  My dad was a Sergeant in the Winnipeg Police force- he is an incredible man.


I believe Men are wonderful.  So then why, why are we still going backwards with gender equality issues in a time where we should all be truly celebrated for each of our own giftings we bring to the table. 


It is a fact today, that women earn $.87 to a man’s dollar.  I’m perplexed here, as I don’t see how this makes sense.  We work just as hard, we show up, we do the job.


Women make up 1/2 the world’s population, yet there are far fewer leadership/CEO opportunities for women.  There are still an overwhelmingly low number of female leaders in the world, and again, this is something that puzzles me, and I hope it puzzles you.


Personally, I believe that many women are far better suited to many leadership roles within our country than our counterparts.  I believe this because many women are gifted with empathy, many women are managing homes, children and aging parents, and their careers.  They have become masters at multi tasking, prioritizing and understanding and appreciating the many different types of people and their situations. 


We can certainly thank many powerful women who are bringing this issue to light and have been doing so for years.  Oprah Winfrey, Geena Davis, Cheryl Sandberg, Dr. Maya Angelou and many more.  I certainly salute these women; however there is much more work to be done.  Perhaps we need to take a closer look at ourselves and wonder, ‘Are we doing our part?  Perhaps we are contributing to the issue, perhaps without knowing?’.


It’s interesting to me.  As women, we apologize for getting feisty at work.  For some reason, we feel the need to say sorry.  Perhaps we should practice being unapologetic.  If we cry, maybe because we feel empathy, frustration or even happiness, we often are considered weak, or labelled ‘emotional’.  The funny thing is, more often than not, when a man cries, his level of respect goes up considerably, and many of us all say in unison ‘awwwwww, what a good man’.  Could it be our own behaviors holding us back?


Here’s another interesting finding.  A young girl in the playground who is demonstrating some behaviors of ‘taking charge’ may be labelled as ‘bossy’.  The same young boy in the playground who is demonstrating the same behavior could be considered ‘driven’ or a ‘natural born leader’.


Let’s dive into some self-examination.


Sometimes self-examination can be tough.  I remember having a young female working for me.  At our office, the dress code was fairly casual, however whenever a new client or potential client was visiting the office this employee upped her game.  And I mean ‘upped her game’.  The heels were higher, the skirt was shorter and the sweater was tighter.   I never quite understood it, and to be very honest, I didn’t quite know how to handle it.  It made me feel uncomfortable.  But what I was most uncomfortable with, was the fact that she didn’t get it.  She didn’t realize that she was disrespecting herself.  To me, it was clear that she didn’t value herself, her intelligence enough …she had to use her body to get the attention. 


Others areas of self-examination may sting a wee bit as well.  Are we selling ourselves short as women?  I’m wondering if it’s possible that we allow ourselves to be treated differently, or if we raise our children differently, that perhaps we have different standards for our sons as opposed to our daughters. 


I believe it is imperative that together we work hard to use our brains instead of our beauty.  I remember years ago I delivered a keynote in Zimbabwe, and my topic was ‘Building a Woman of Beauty and Brains’. 

There in the heart of Africa my message to these incredible, strong and gifted women was to USE your giftings, to use your STRENGTHS, to raise other women up, to empower other women, to honor your husbands, but to first honor yourselves…. because that is beautiful.   That is a woman of beauty and brains. 


As women we have incredible gifts and incredible beauty, and we must use it accordingly, in the right situations.  Not for advancement, or manipulation, or for self-serving purposes.  Eye candy is just that, eye candy.  It is not respected, nor will it serve us well. 


Thus, double standards simply won’t work here. 

What is the solution?  What is the solution to gender equality?  I really don’t know.  But I know that we can all do our part today. 


We need to respect and honour ourselves to know that we are ENOUGH.  We need to use our voices.


We can work hard to empower and raise other women up, we can stand up for what is right and what is wrong.  Isn’t it better to be a woman who raises others up instead of tear them down?


We can respectfully demand we be treated and PAID the same at our next job, we can be mindful of gender bias advertising, and teach others the truth about gender equality.


We can teach our sons, and our daughters that we are equal.  We are equal. 


We can honor our strengths, in fact, let’s celebrate them together!


One of the most important human needs is to feel valued.   What if we became consciously aware to add value to others, including our wonderful counterparts? 


This is what I know.  The more we focus on our own growth, our own strengths, our own behaviors, we will improve over time.   It is thru that improvement that we will be leaders to others, we will inspire others, we will encourage others to do likewise.


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