Gender Readings in Review

Gender readings shed a great deal of light on women in the workplace, and the regular disparities and challenges they face.  I have worked with both men and women in the past that when you would talk about these challenges, the response was a simple, that’s just the way it is or it isn’t that bad.  What I become the most concerned about is the lasting impact that not addressing these challenges now head on will have on future generations.  We can raise children to be more inclusive, and welcoming of everyone, but there is still a chance that once boys and girls go into the workforce as adults they will simply fall into the traditional corporate culture where women are under appreciated, and even made to feel like an outsider.

I speak to this in my Feminist Fight Club post, but there needs to be an overhaul of the corporate culture to create a more welcoming environment.  The tendency for us to prioritize our work over everything flies in the face of people having families, and finding an appropriate work/life balance.  The Lean-In presentation talks about making workplaces more family friendly.  Ensure that people know it is ok to prioritize a family, and express their challenges with traveling and being away.  I appreciate my current job so much because I work on a team where everyone has a family, and when we talk about the difficulties of being away and relate to each other and empathize.

In my former role the workforce was largely made up of young, ambitious people who were 110% devoted to their job, and to talk about a struggle of being away from your family was often thought of as weird.  One of my last bosses was actually very challenging with women in the office that would want to leave work at 5 pm on the dot to get back to their children.  She did not have children of her own, and her habits in leadership, at times, were very male like.  Looking back, I can see how the culture of the workplace had influenced her and how she led.  Her boss, a male, was just like her.  He would always want people to stay late, put in difficult to maintain hours, and for people to devote everything to their work.  He was just as unpopular, and often seen as the driver of the culture our local boss was enforcing.

The one reading I found upsetting was the instructor bias.  I look back at my higher education experience and it was filled with male professors, a lot of them.  Most of them are a blur by this point, we didn’t have intimate class settings at Northern Illinois University often, but there will always be my sports and culture professor.  Sarah was a great teacher, was a clear expert in the field of sports and culture, and she made the materials so relatable.  I understand the science and research behind that bias, and it is proven, I just think about some of the great educational experiences that people are closing themselves off to for a bias they are not willing to address.  A lot of that bias is hardwired in, but where along the line in our schooling do we begin to see women as less of an expert compared to a man.  Our earliest educational experiences are filled with female teachers!

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