I had two opportunities to experience unconscious gender bias this week. A bike mechanic and a chimneysweep each looked through me (the paying customer) to a male companion. This bias I call “presumed vs. earned credibility.”
Deaf, Blind, Biased – or Stumped? Why Leaders Don’t Respond to the Business Case for Gender Diversity
Why might the message about the value of diversity not be heard? Why might leaders hear it but not buy it? Why do men who do buy it not take effective action? These are not rhetorical questions. I have some ideas but I want your thoughts.
Manpower Group commissioned research on “accelerating more women into leadership.” The report suggests that reaching “gender parity” will take time — and cultural change. It will take changing “entrenched male culture” to “gender neutral culture.” How can we do that?
Do women do more “helping” tasks (vs “working”) in your office? Yes, say Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. They get no credit from it at performance review time but are penalized in evaluations if they decline to “help.” “Helping (which includes planning events, helping a co-worker, taking notes in meetings, and getting coffee for others) costs energy and opportunities. Sandberg and Grant say men need to “acknowledge” this problem and then speak up. I agree that raising awareness is the starting point and hope their articles are raising awareness.
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant make some pretty obvious points in the first of their four-part New York Times series on women at work. Their punchline is that raising awareness of gender stereotypes and bias is not enough. Only by expressing disapproval of the biases and resulting barriers facing women can we change the facts on gender diversity in leadership. I express disapproval. Now let’s change those facts!