Today is International Women’s Day — a “global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”
Every woman could cite an example of gender bias, often unrealized in the moment by anyone besides herself. But until the subtle differences are made conscious, it becomes difficult to impact change and achieve equality in pay, behavior and norms.
In a recent case my class read, Alex Sander was a hard-charging, driven executive who was the sales leader in the group. Alex’s assertiveness was not liked, but accepted as a trade-off for top performance metrics. But the conversation changed when it was revealed that Alex was, in fact, a woman. Suddenly that same behavior seemed too aggressive and a behavioral issue. While it made for great class discussion, it makes for a lousy standard in the workplace.
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has said: “That little girl’s not bossy — that little girl has executive leadership skills.” (It’s one of the the e-cards the Massachusetts Conference for Women prepared for others to send to women today.) Sheryl could have been talking about the fictional Alex Sander — or someone you know. Use today to heighten your sensitivity to differences in how women are treated — by others and by you — and make a commitment to do better.