True stories are metaphoric snapshots of reality helping us to visualise unconscious gender bias. All illustrations are created by EMPOWER´s award winning Rán Flygenring.
FEMALE CEO´S AMONG THE FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES*BTEAM 2020
MANSPLAINING & HEPEATING ARE COMMON PROBLEMS IN MANY WORKPLACES.
Mansplaining means that men take it upon themselves to “explain” things to women in a condescending manner, even though the women are experts on the subject being discussed.
Hepeating is when a woman contributes something to a conversation, in a meeting for example, without being listened to, but when a man keeps the conversation going and repeats the woman’s idea, he is listened to and even given credit for the idea.
UNCONSCIOUS GENDER BIAS
towards women in the workplace is often hidden, but manifests itself in many ways – for example when women are expected to do household chores in the workplace, even if they are in a supervising position.
Women commonly feel like they are being left out of the “bigger deals” at work and when dealing with clients. Sometimes they get explanations such as women can’t join when clients are being “wined and dined” as it could possibly make the clients’ wives jealous.
The word even is often misinterpreted regarding equal gender representation in groups at work. It can “feel like” there are more women than the statistics say.
LACK OF SELF CONTROL?
Vice President Mike Pence, of the United States, follows a set of rules where he is never alone with any woman except his wife. He never eats alone with another woman, and he never attends events where women are present, except when he is with his wife.
Following #metoo some people thought that this gender separation could be the way to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
If this rule was to be enforced it would exclude women from getting ahead in the workplace, in the business world, in government and politics.
The rule also implies that it is normal for men to lack all self control, that they only see women as sexualized beings or prey, but not as equals and colleagues, which makes it necessary to have a set of rules based on those assumptions.
At the end of the 60s, less than 5% of the members of the five biggest orchestras in the United States were women.
A change was required, so it was decided to hold blind auditions behind a curtain so that there was no way of knowing whether a man or a woman was playing. This method is still being used and today the ratio is closer to 30%. The change can be attributed to systematic ways that are being used to prevent unconscious gender bias during evaluation.
MEN AT HOME
Time management in the workplace can have a big effect on gender roles within the company. Long workdays and being absent from home is not any less straining for men than it is for women.
Men are now putting more emphasis on taking equal part in raising children and sharing responsibility at home.
It’s still fairly common when people within different lines of work meet up that the schedule represents outdated ideas on gender roles.
While the men sit and discuss important matters within their line of work, a special “wife program” is being held that includes for example a trip to needlework or craft museums.
THE ONLY WOMAN
When looking at gender division it’s common to find only one woman in any given role. There is one woman on the executive board and one woman in each of the key teams.
This one woman is in many cases the company’s “proof” that they fulfil every requirement they need to in terms of gender equality. When a new, powerful woman joins the team this poses a problem, often resulting in the “new” woman staying, and the “old” woman leaving.
In other words, there is plenty of room for many competent men, but only for one competent woman.
It is more common than many people think that men consider themselves to be entitled to certain jobs. If a woman is hired for a job they want, they feel cheated and believe that the woman must have gotten the job “just because she is a woman”. This was “their job”.
THE MOST QUALIFIED PERSON
When looking through statistics from economic life, a clearly distinguishable difference between men and women in upper management positions can be seen — in favor of the men. Upper management of Icelandic companies is generally aware of these facts, and that they need to be changed, but always tend to add that “when it comes down to it, we of course hire the most competent individual”.
Given the fact that women are usually just as smart and just as talented as their male colleagues, it raises a few questions when “the most competent individual” in most cases turns out to be “the most competent man”.
Could it be that the competency assessment is most of the time built on a (male) premise that values traits and abilities that most resemble themselves?
Men tend to address women with over familiar greetings like: “hello honey”, “hi sweetheart”, “hey babe”, “thanks love”.
These are usually not requested and many women find them condescending and not reflective of a peer attitude.
FEMALE CEO´S IN LISTED COMPANIES IN ICELAND
ICELAND IS NO 1 FOR THE 11TH YEAR RUNNING ON THE WEF GLOBAL GENDER GAP INDEX.
*WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM 2020