Building Gender Equity at Work

Momentum held the first of its 2019-2020 Leadership Series this month. Susan Hodgkinson, Leadership Development Expert and best-selling author of The Dignity Mindset: A Leader’s Guide to Building Gender Equity at Work, was invited to hold a workshop discussing key themes from her book on achieving gender equity in the workplace.

The workshop was part of Momentum’s Leadership Series which is designed to offer men and women professional development opportunities with events occurring quarterly throughout the year. Hosted at Encompass Health, the event started with networking and breakfast before diving into the concept of gender equity.

Hodgkinson outlined two reasons why gender equity is not normalized in today’s culture. One, starting at a young age our brains become engendered by societal ideas of what it means to be female or male. Hodgkinson uses the well-known statement “you throw like a girl” to beg the question, what is the story that we are teaching about gender? Statements like these often portray “female characteristics” as weak in comparison to “male characteristics,” teaching women and girls that they are inferior. Two, the depiction of women as objects whose main purpose is to appease men is pervasive in our culture and the media. Hodgkinson cited vivid cases portraying inauthentic representations or no representation of women at all.

Hodgkinson challenged attendees to apply the Bechdel test to the films of today which measures female depictions in works of fiction. The test only requires a film to have at least two women characters whose names are made clear in the film, and converse with each other about something other than a man. According to Duke Research Blog, only 40-50% of U.S. films from 2015-2017 fail the Bechdel test, which is surprising considering the simple requirements needed to pass. The lack of female representation in media is just as concerning. Only 10% of voluntary contributors to Wikipedia are women, and only about 17% of the 1.5 million biographies in English are about women.

Feelings of inferiority cause a major problem in the workplace. In what is called the “Confidence Gap,” data show that women are less self-assured than men, and more likely to have Imposter Syndrome. So what steps can we take to resolve this concern and establish gender equity? Outlining seven tools to create gender equity through a dignity-driven culture, Hodgkinson makes it clear that the change is mostly up to business leaders. In order to create a dignity-driven culture, leaders must recognize that every team member has the same fundamental needs and choose to fulfill them. Leaders must also make space for the voices of women and people of color to be heard, and seek to increase their presence when there is a lack of diversity in business spaces.

Read Susan Hodgkinson’s book, The Dignity Mindset: A Leader’s Guide to Building Gender Equity at Work, to learn more about leading from a dignity-driven mindset.

To participate in the next Leadership Series event, register now for The Key to Personal Bandwidth workshop on January 9th, 2019 at Samford University.

We would like to hear your feedback! Comment below with your thoughts on gender equity and how you see it, or where it’s lacking, in the workplace.

Alivia Moore is a junior Public Relations student at UAB

 

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