So today was supposed to be a date, but my prospective beau had to work, so I spent the evening listening to Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In (and a new version for graduates). At the heart of the evening was feminism and the strive for equality.
The friend I went with is female. She can get a bit emotional in the office. She pushes her point with force, passion and conviction. And she’s known for it. She has even had it commented on that she can be too ambitious. I’m probably more emotional, more forceful and about as ambitious (we compete against each other to a certain degree), but I’m encouraged to speak my mind and to offer challenge. How does that make sense?
When we sit in meetings, how many times do two people start talking and the female bows to the man? It’s not a conscious thing on either part, but should we not look at this. How many great ideas, ground breaking challenges and unique perspectives are being lost?
We’re in the era of communication, yet how many of us can look ourselves squarely in the eye and say we listen as attentively to a woman as a man? Do we judge women and men by the same yardstick? I think I’m pretty good at being gender neutral due to my rugby coaching, but even then, the power was with us men as the coaches.
Don’t think it’s just business though: Sandberg spoke about it being a 50:50 split at home with her husband. It may not be achievable, but if you don’t try for it, failure isn’t an option but a necessary consequence. I want to be successful, but I’d also like to be a good husband and father, if I ever assume those roles. Do we expect men to strive to be in an equal partnership at home? When a man has kids, do we expect him to do flexible working in the same way as women? Even if you say you accept it, do you encourage it in the same way? Bet you don’t.