Feminism has become a popular term these days, especially within the last couple of years. Some women despise the word while others live by it. And where are men in all of this? Do they agree in equality? Do those that do have implicit bias harboring inside of them despite their outward beliefs?
At its core, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Let me repeat that: Feminism the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.
Equal work deserves equal pay – it’s that simple.
Fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy said he agreed with that statement and signed the Equal Pay Act. Unfortunately for women, it seems this doesn’t really matter as the World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be alive to see it happen. I’d hate to think only my grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren will be the first to see equal pay.
How do we push equal pay into our lifetime? We have to get men on board. We need to convince them we deserve it.
Until men break those stereotypes they have of vulnerable women who aren’t as capable as men, there is no room for feminism. Men must open their eyes to a world where men can cry and women can be bosses without being called bossy. Misogyny is a trap for everyone. Letting it go will set us all free.
Below are 5 tips for breaking barriers to equal pay:
Raise awareness about feminism
Ignorance is the enemy. Many people, specifically men, have a false perception of feminism. Perhaps the ol’ image of the bra burners is still stuck in their head. Feminism is truly about making things equal, not about making women more like men.
Not all men are fond of physical work, and not at all women want to document meeting minutes. Alternate responsibilities for common tasks to ensure that tasks aren’t handed out based on gender.
When I worked for a start up tech firm, I was the only woman in the office. I was hired to interview and hire new employees (and create an HR Dept) as the company expected to grow with its recent $5M investment. Of course I was tasked with answering the phones, I can only assume because I was the only woman, and I refused. I pointed out that it made more sense for the guy serving as executive assistant to do it, based on his job title. And I won that battle.
Encourage fathers to take time off for their family.
Women are often encouraged to take time off or work less hours after they have a baby, but shouldn’t men be too? After all, the law provides for both men and women to take paternity and maternity leave, respectively. Yet it’s taboo for a man to take his full paternity leave, and that’s just silly. It’s equally important for a man to bond with his child.
Be aware of your implicit bias
According to Sheryl Sandberg, the creator of the LeanIn movement, “Women are still underrepresented at every corporate level and hold less than 30% of roles in senior management. And women hit the glass ceiling early: They are far less likely than men to be promoted from entry level to manager, and they continue to lose ground incrementally the more senior they become.”
And there are so, so many articles just like this one highlighting the discrepancies between men and women. You have to be aware of your own bias, and even if you are a woman, know that you likely have them too. You might say to yourself that you believe women deserve equal pay, but the nature of implicit bias is that it is implicit – you don’t know it’s there. Admit to yourself that it could be, and start being a part of the solution.
Also encourage everyone to talk openly about gender stereotypes and bias. The more you talk about it the less it’s the elephant in the room.
Take a look around your workplace. How many men versus women are in leadership positions? Do the women in those leadership positions make the same as their male counterparts?
If you have less women than men in leadership roles, it’s time to set some goals for yourself to even it out. If the women in leadership roles make less than men, it’s time to even the score. Unless the men have vastly more experience (we’re talking 10 years or more), they shouldn’t make more, period.