In March every year, you probably watch your social media feeds flood with stories of amazing women. Those who helped shape history. Those who won awards and made remarkable inventions. Those who continue to break through boundaries and change the world today.
We’re so grateful for the attention that Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day brings to the fight for gender equality – a fight that lasts well beyond this one month.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias – a recognition that gender bias still exists in society, workplaces, and even subconsciously in many minds. People are invited to share a photo of themselves with their arms crossed over in an ‘X’, a sign that we won’t stand for it any more.
It’s a call action, to strive for a world free from bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.
So beyond joining the #BreakTheBias movement, how can you take action for gender equality? Here are some ways you can do it, whatever gender you identify as.
Celebrate Women’s History every day
Women’s History Month has a decent history of its own, dating back to the first official International Women’s Day in 1910. The day commemorated a gathering of suffragettes and socialists in Manhattan the previous year, and was brought overseas by the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, with 17 countries in attendance.
In 1975 the United Nations began to sponsor international Women’s Day, and in 1980 President Jimmy Carter declared National Women’s History Week in the US. In 1987, this was expanded to incorporate the whole month of March, as it remains today.
So why has one gathering of women in Manhattan in 1909 exploded into a worldwide, month-long celebration of womankind?
Good question. We believe that women all over the world are eager to be reminded of those who’ve gone before us (often unacknowledged), shaping industries, cultures, and the world.
Actively discussing and sharing women’s history transforms the narrative of our male dominated past, in which 50% of the planet’s human inhabitants only account for 1% of its recorded history.
Women need to be celebrated every day. We can actively do this in our families, our teams and our organizations. It’s up to us to call out the accomplishments of women, and push the agenda.
Seek out resources from bias breakers
Taking the conversation of gender equality beyond the month of March involves continuously learning about what women are doing. So try to find other bias breakers to be inspired by and learn from.
Here are some of our top picks.
Books we love:
- Power Play, by Julia Banks – Reveals the unvarnished realities of any workplace where power disparities and gender politics collide.
- I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai – The story of a young girl who stood up for her right to an education, and was shot by the Taliban.
- Becoming, by Michelle Obama – A memoir from America’s first African American First Lady, who battled discrimination, work-life balance and life in teh public eye.
- My Body, by Emily Ratajkowski – A profoundly personal exploration of feminism, sexuality, and power, of men’s treatment of women and women’s rationalizations for accepting that treatment.
Podcasts we love:
- The Career Contessa Podcast – A weekly career advice podcast focused on women, work, and all the answers to your questions so you can be more fulfilled, healthy, and successful at work. (Check out a fave episode of ours, Is Fear Masking Your Ambitions?)
- Ladies We Need to Talk – This podcast explores the tricky topics women often avoid speaking about, focusing on sexuality, and work life balance. This podcast is for women trying to break out of their comfort zones and break the bias. (A top episode choice has to be The Answer’s no)
- The Girls In Tech Podcast – Inspiring conversations with women breaking the bias in tech every day. (Founder Journey: Funding, Community & Never Giving Up details Rebecca’s journey as a woman of color in entrepreneurship and tech – an insightful episode for people of all genders.)
- Breaking the Bias – A podcast featuring interviews with people breaking the bias when it comes to diversity, inclusion and equity. (See: Creating a more inclusive workspace for people with disabilities.)
Invite everyone to the table
Some people think that gender equality is a conversation that only women should have a say in. But we need to welcome everyone to the table. We need to hear stories from people of all genders, races, identities and backgrounds. People of color, people with disabilities, people in power.
And men. We need to invite men to the discussion, so they can recognize the role they have to play, and the responsibility they can take for initiating change.
Men can be allies to the cause of gender equality, they can help transform power dynamics by advocating for women in leadership positions, challenging their own beliefs and values, and challenging toxic masculinity. Let’s not forget that men have a role to play in gender equality and activism.
Acknowledge and call out bias
Research has shown that men in positions of power are liked and respected, while women in positions of power are disliked. What is seen as ‘assertive behavior’ in men, is seen as ‘bossiness’ in women. And women suffer from a ‘motherhood penalty’, earning less money after having children, whereas men actually benefit from a ‘fatherhood bonus’.
These things may be common, but they don’t need to be accepted.
We all have a role to play in ensuring a DEI agenda in our workplaces. Organizations that prioritize mentorship and professional development programs for women are truly breaking biases. And employees calling out signs of bias or negative workplace language are bias breakers too.
There’s a lot set against working women. But women who ‘do it anyway’ endlessly inspire us.
Across the world we’re seeing women paving the way in male-dominated industries by:
- Forging their own paths, rather than being discouraged by the lack of female role models they have.
- Applying for jobs, even when they don’t meet 100% of the criteria.
- Standing up for themselves.
- Speaking out in meetings.
- Pushing for change.
- Challenging norms.
- Supporting their female peers.
This Women’s History Month we encourage you to celebrate bias breaking women of the past, present, and future. And we invite you to step up and do the same.