I came across an article the last week with the headline, “Women make up just 10% of OECD boardrooms”. And I thought to myself — not another one!
At which point I immediately felt guilty and horrified with myself because the thought that had skittered so fleetingly through my mind was actually “Not another article about inequality”.
Though the principal emotion I experienced was disappointment, I have to admit there was also a smidgen of exasperation. This is what made me feel completely guilty — that this disloyal attitude could have crossed my mind and that I, even just for a moment, was capable of betraying my fellow women by minimizing an important issue that I have been personally championing all of my life. I felt bad, because items like this usually make me completely irate.
As penance, and because I truly do believe this is an issue of critical import, I am going to explain why you will continue to see articles of this nature and why this is such a very good thing.
The first step in addressing any issue is in acknowledging it exists.
In order for something to become important enough to matter and be addressed, people have to realize or admit there is a problem. Think of the Toyota mass automobile recall due to the accelerator pedal sticking to the floor mat, or the (fairly) recent conclusion that coronary disease affects women as seriously as men. It’s the reason why Alcoholics Anonymous meetings famously start with each participant introducing themselves with, “My name is ____ and I am an alcoholic”.
The second step is to create a critical level of awareness.
The second is to ensure the people most affected/impacted by the issue are aware of the problem. In the case of Toyota, it was key management and senior decision-makers who needed to be aware there was a serious defect that needed to be fixed. In regards to women’s heart disease, it was the medical community, health organizations and government that needed to be educated and sensitized to the issue of heart disease in women.
With an issue as broad and as prevalent as women not being accorded the same opportunities as men despite education, ability and talent, both of these steps take multiple and repeated exposure. Continued and frequent publicity helps bring widespread awareness: to individuals, to industries and organizations, and, to society as a whole.
A Question of Legitimacy
Building awareness serves to bring attention, attract the interested, the affected and their sympathizers. The attention validates and legitimizes the issue, which starts to build momentum as an authentic cause.
That bloggers, journalists, media outlets and organizations continue to bring forward perspectives on women in the workforce and the inequities there, are signs that the matter is important and of high interest. It indicates that we are not alone, there is widespread support, and critically, credence that there is a problem and that it must be addressed.
Ever the optimist!
I am optimistic that social medial will be a huge boon to help women gain the respect, credibility and positions they deserve.
That awareness will continue to build and the result will be improved opportunities for women.
Women are very effectively using social media. We are exchanging information, engaging followers, educating, sensitizing and influencing.
Women’s generally collaborative style and preference for inclusion make us excellent at networking.
The increased visibility provided by social media will help showcase the talents and capabilities of women.
With social media, we can be there for each other like never before. Barriers of distance, discipline, geography and demographics and more are, for the most part, eliminated.
Since women have equal opportunity to achieve the same education as men and to develop the same skills, the stumbling block becomes opportunity and access. I believe that social media can only improve both.