HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY! Let’s #BREAKTHEBIAS together!
Each year, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th. This year the theme is #BREAKTHEBIAS.
This is the last post in a series of four that have been produced for International Women’s Day. In the first three posts we showed that the bias is real and that women are indeed treated differently than men. The statistics and the stories prove that discrimination and stereotypes still exist. In the previous posts we also touched briefly on the stories of incredible women who, despite these obstacles, were able to rise and inspire many people of all genders, to break these biases, and see our variety and differences as strengths, not as weaknesses!
So, for International Women’s Day and every day going forward, do you want to #BreakTheBias? Here are a few simple ideas for anyone who would like to take some tangible steps in everyday life. These are just a few thoughts to get the ball rolling – there are so many things we can do and different things will suit different people, so do some research and find what speaks to you! For now, here’s our short list of ideas to start you off:
Daily ways to #BREAKTHEBIAS
- Acknowledge that we can all be biased and harbour prejudices and stereotypes.
- Once acknowledged, we can help to reduce our biases by learning about the facts and statistics that surround the issue and reading/hearing/watching the stories of the ‘other’ that we’re biased against.
- As you learn more about the inequality that women face, share your new knowledge with the people around you if you feel comfortable to do so. This could be with friends, family, colleagues, teachers.
- Notice the language we use and try to use fewer gendered terms. For example use people or humanity instead of mankind. Can you think of any others?
- Another example of a gendered term is mothering/motherly. It’s better to replace that with the specific qualities that we’re trying to convey with these words for example being kind-hearted, nurturing or supportive. These are things that can be done by any human regardless of gender. Can you think of some other examples in which a word implies that the action is being done by a specific gender?
- Colours for children – avoid the pink/blue situation we’re in! If you want to learn more about this, Britanica has a good explainer article on it (https://www.britannica.com/story/has-pink-always-been-a-girly-color). For the purposes of this short post, suffice it to say that we created this colour scheme and we can also break it. Although colour is in itself not a massive problem, it belies a great issue – that society ‘makes decisions’ for us based on our sex. Stopping the simpler ones like colour may pave the way to breaking some of the more complex biases.
- We can’t mention children without mentioning toys. Gender biases are put on us right from the moment we’re born and continue throughout our childhood through the toys we’re given. Let’s try to break the cycle and give the children in our lives non-gendered toys. Let them choose what they want to play with, without conveying subtle yet powerful messages to them by giving girls toys such as dolls, babies and kitchens and giving boys footballs, toy tools and cars. They carry these subliminal messages with them forever and use them as a basis for decision-making as reflected in the statistics we present in across the previous 3 blogs.
- Call people out. This can be uncomfortable and certainly won’t suit everyone. But for those of you who feel like you can, it’s important to respectfully call out gender bias when we see it around us. Call out ‘humour’ that undermines women; call out work-place behaviour and culture that undermines women; call out language that is casually violent and abusive towards women. Sadly, many of these things are normalised in our society and calling them out, whilst uncomfortable, is an important way to #BreakTheBias.
For International Women’s Day on March 8th, let us all, regardless of gender, commit with courage to #BreakTheBias so that a gender equal world becomes not just a possibility, but an inevitability.
For more information about International Women’s Day: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/